End of an era as Chicago pit trading ceases

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FILE - In this Jan. 22, 2008, file photo, a trader throws his hands into the air during trading in the S&P 500 futures trading pit of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in Chicago. The parent company of the Chicago Board of Trade and other exchanges is ending most trading involving people on the floor who establish prices by flashing hand signals and shouting at each other. CME Group said Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015, it that it will close most of its futures trading pits in Chicago and New York by July 2. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)
( Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)

By William Spain

The futures pits — where generations made and lost fortunes trading wheat, corn and soybean contracts through open outcry trading — are set to close this month, marking the end of a nearly 170-year run of one of the most colorful traditions in the increasingly drab and electronic world of high finance.

The futures operator CME Group announced two weeks ago that the last day of trading in the futures pits in Chicago and New York is set for Monday, closing the books on a storied institution that was started as the Chicago Butter & Egg Board.

What was once the domain of burly men with booming voices will soon complete a migration to electronic exchanges that have dominated the business for more than a decade. While humans will still trade options, a big section of the landmark Chicago Board of Trade Building will go dark.

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