By Eric Onstad
LONDON (Reuters) – The London Metal Exchange has banned open outcry traders from consuming alcohol during the day, it said on Friday, joining other London firms in halting a culture of boozy lunches.
In the past, LME traders, along with many other financial service workers, had a culture of heading to the pub at midday before returning to work in the afternoon.
The LME, owned by Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd., informed traders on Friday morning of the new policy, an industry source said.
“The LME has broad powers under its rule book to ensure fit and proper behaviour on the ring and ring dealing, and members have policies and procedures in place regarding the behaviour of their staff while conducting business on the ring,” an LME spokeswoman said.
“The LME appreciates the high standards upheld by its members, and has formalised the general position that ring-based personnel should not consume any alcohol prior to conducting business.”
Industrial metals prices set by traders on the exchange, the world’s oldest and largest market for metals such as copper and aluminium, are used in contracts by miners and industrial users around the world.
The 142-year-old LME ring is the last open-outcry trading venue in Europe, where in a circle of padded red-leather seats, traders use arcane hand signals during five-minute bursts of intense trading.
The ring has its roots in the early 19th century when the Royal Exchange, the world’s first commodities market, became so crowded, metal merchants gathered at the Jerusalem coffee house on Cornhill in the City to conduct business.
In 2017, Lloyd’s of London, home of much of the world’s insurance trade, prohibited alcohol consumption during business hours, bringing it into line with financial service industry peers.
(Reporting by Eric Onstad; Editing by Jan Harvey)