CHICAGO, March 3 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- CME, the largest U.S. futures exchange, today announced its plans to list ethanol futures contracts, the exchange's first-ever energy contract. The futures are scheduled to commence trading on March 29, 2005, and will trade on the CME(R) Globex(R) electronic platform. Sempra Commodities, one of North America's largest full-service energy trading companies, will serve as the market maker. "As a result of the Clean Air Act, the ethanol industry has boomed over the past few years. In 2004, U.S. ethanol facilities set new production records and consumers used more than three billion gallons of ethanol in their cars," said John Harangody, Director, CME Commodity Products. "The launch of CME Ethanol futures, the first electronically traded ethanol contract, will provide the industry with a superior risk management tool, create trading opportunities for those looking to capitalize on the constant fluctuations in this market and potentially attract new customers to our markets." "We are pleased to have this opportunity to work with one of the world's most innovative and dynamic financial exchanges," said John Brooks, Vice President, Bio Fuels, Marketing and Trading, Sempra Commodities. "This contract offers price transparency, the execution speed of electronic trading and a level playing field for all market participants. Given CME's successful track record in launching new products, and the market need for sophisticated risk management tools, I am confident that CME ethanol futures will be well received." Ethanol is an alternative fuel produced by fermenting and distilling starch crops, usually corn, which have been converted into simple sugars and then to ethanol. Most commonly used to increase octane and improve the emissions quality of gasoline, it has the potential to reduce dependence on oil. U.S. federal legislation already includes provisions encouraging the use of ethanol and, internationally, other nations are launching initiatives to increase the use and production of ethanol. It is likely that 2005 will be another record-setting year for the ethanol industry. Currently, there are 81 ethanol plants nationwide with a combined capacity to produce more than 3.6 billion gallons of ethanol annually, according to the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). Sixteen ethanol plants are under construction and two major expansions are under way. When those projects are finished, RFA estimates that the ethanol manufacturing industry will have a total production capacity of 4.35 billion gallons annually. Following are the specifications for the contract: Contract Size: 30,000 U.S. gallons; +/- 5% variation in delivery unit without penalty, with payment based on exact quantity delivered Quotation: Dollars per gallon Quality Specification: ASTM D4806, including Appendix X2 for California Ethanol Requirements Quantity Specification: Measured at 60 degrees F using Table 6B of ASTM D1250 Tick Size: $.001 per gallon ($30 per contract) Daily Price Limit: No price limit in the front month during the last 5 days of trading; $.10 per gallon ($3,000 per contract) above or below the previous day's settlement price; $.20 per gallon ($6,000 per contract) after three consecutive limit-up or three consecutive limit-down settlements in the contract month nearest to expiration that is subject to a price limit Position Limits: -- Any Month except Front Month 1,000 contracts -- Front Month 500 contracts during last 15 trading days; 250 contracts during last 10 trading days; 100 contracts during last 5 trading days Contract Months Traded: All 12 calendar months with 12 consecutive contracts listed for trading at all times; 3 consecutive contracts listed until after first two expirations Termination of Trading: Last business day of the calendar month prior to the contract month Final Settlement: Physical delivery; on track via loaded tank car at shipping origin Freight Basing Point: Chicago First Notice Day: First business day of the contract month Last Notice Day: Last business day of the contract month Trading Hours: Monday-Friday, 9:05 AM to 1:30 PM Chicago time Trading Venue: CME Globex(R) only No-Bust Range: $.049 or less Price Bands: $.10 for outrights, $.05 for spreads CME will also offer a six-month fee waiver for all market participants and block trading with a minimum quantity threshold of 20 contracts. Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. ( http://www.cme.com ) is the largest futures exchange in the United States. As an international marketplace, CME brings together buyers and sellers on CME Globex(R) electronic trading platform and on its trading floor. CME offers futures and options on futures primarily in four product areas: interest rates, stock indexes, foreign exchange and commodities. The exchange moved about $1.5 billion per day in settlement payments in 2004 and managed $44.1 billion in collateral deposits as of Dec. 31, 2004, including $3.1 billion in deposits for non-CME products. CME is a wholly owned subsidiary of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Holdings Inc. (NYSE: CME), which is part of the Russell 1000(R) Index. Statements in this news release that are not historical facts are forward- looking statements. These statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve risks, uncertainties and assumptions that are difficult to predict. 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