The London Metal Exchange (LME) is the futures exchange with the world's largest market in options and futures contracts on base and other metals. As the LME offers contracts with daily expiry dates of up to three months from trade date, along with longer-dated contracts up to 123 months, it also allows for cash trading. It offers hedging, worldwide reference pricing, and the option of physical delivery to settle contracts. In July 2012, LME's shareholders voted to sell the exchange to Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing for £1.4 billion.
The LME offers futures and options contracts for aluminium, aluminium alloy, NASAAC (North American Special Aluminium Alloy), cobalt, copper, lead, molybdenum, nickel, steel billet, tin and zinc.
To trade contracts in copper, tin, or any other metal listed on the LME, one has to trade through an LME member. Purchasers of contracts, which are then left to reach maturity, will receive a warrant for a specific LME approved warehouse to take delivery of the metal if required.
The LME issues, each day, detailed figures on how many tons of each metal is in its warehouses, which helps producers and consumers make correct business decisions.
Contrary to popular belief, the precious metals, gold and silver, are not traded on the London Metal Exchange, but on the over-the-counter market usually referred to as the London Bullion Market, by the members of the London Bullion Market Association. Platinum and palladium are traded on the London Platinum and Palladium Market. Both members of the LBMA and LPPM trade the precious metals spot market on EBS (Electronic Broking Systems)—acquired by ICAP in June 2006. Many companies involved in minor metals are members of the Minor Metal Trade Association.
The LME launched an electronic platform called LME Select launched in February 2001. This was developed by a Swedish software house called Cinnober. The platform is a FIX-based trading platform, and has a significant and increasing share of the total LME business.
For More information on the London Metal Exchange please see www.lme.com