The Roles of People at the Commodity Exchange
A number of people are involved in making sure that your commodity order is executed as smoothly and efficiently as possible, and your order goes through an extensive supply chain before it’s executed.
The card clocker
The card clocker sits in the middle of the ring, where she’s literally at the center of the action. The clocker must time-stamp every ticket order and record the time of each transaction that takes place on the exchange floor. She is an employee of the exchange and processes about 1,000 tickets every minute!
The floor runner
The floor runner is also employed by the exchange, and his responsibility is to gather all time-stamped ticket orders from the card clocker and hand them to the data-entry folks at the exchange. He’s called a floor runner because he has to literally run between the card clocker and data-entry personnel to deliver the ticket orders.
The data-entry folks are responsible for recording the exact time and nature of the contract for the exchange’s internal compliance records.
The price reporter
The price reporter is a major link between what goes on inside the trading rings and the outside world. The price reporter is responsible for noting the price and time of every transaction that takes place inside the ring. The price the reporter notes flashes directly and instantaneously on the board; various news and wire services then disseminate it to the outside public.
The price you read in a crawling news ticker is the price recorded by the price reporter during trading hours, and it represents the settlement price of the latest transaction for a given contract.
Unless you subscribe to a wire service that gives you “real-time access” to the prices on the exchange, the price you read is usually delayed by 15 to 20 minutes. This is because news providers such as Bloomberg, Dow Jones, and Reuters pay a premium to get access to exchange prices in real time.
If you want real-time exchange quotes, you have to subscribe to one of these business news services. Cameras, cellphones, and other recording devices are strictly prohibited at exchanges: The news providers and exchanges don’t want you to get access to the latest information, fearing that you might disseminate it to the outside world for free!
The ring supervisor
Every exchange has a floor with more than one ring in it. A ring, sometimes known as a pit, is where specific commodity contracts are bought and sold during the open outcry sessions.
For example, the floor of the CME/NYMEX has a natural gas ring, a crude oil ring, and a heating oil ring. The brokers and traders in each ring may buy and sell only the specific commodity that’s traded in that ring.
Every ring has a supervisor who’s responsible for overseeing trading activity and maintaining orderly conduct in the ring. The ring supervisor is similar to the umpire in a tennis game — she oversees the game to make sure that all the rules are followed and intervenes when they’re not.