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Trading was conducted by open outcry , where traders meet on the trading floor in what is called the pit to conduct trades. The Exchange was originally housed in the historic Royal Exchange building near Bank but then moved to Cannon Bridge in The DTB was an electronic exchange founded in and the predecessor to Eurex.
The DTB offered an identical product but, as an electronic exchange, it had a lower cost base. LIFFE had had big plans to expand, and intended to redevelop Spitalfields Market in the City of London as they needed a larger building for their open outcry.
With the loss of the market for their main product, Bund futures contracts, all expansion plans were shelved. LIFFE realised that, to compete, it had urgently to develop an electronic trading platform instead.
It already had an electronic platform called Automated Pit Trading APT , which was used in after-hours trading when the trading pit was closed. After the creation of the euro in the exchange won the lion's share of trading in euro-denominated short-term interest rate derivatives — the EURIBOR contract. LIFFE intended that this flexibility would encourage traders around the world to link to the exchange.
In September that year the exchange announced that it had received a number of expressions of interest in buying the business. Together with the derivative arms of the continental European exchanges it became Euronext. Some analysts say that LIFFE had to give up its independence because it had failed to embrace technology early enough.
LIFFE accredited traders, particularly those engaged in the open outcry trading pits, could and did earn high salaries at the price of a demanding and stressful job.
Floor support personnel Runners, Midoffice and exchange staff , in contrast, usually earned a lot less. LIFFE floor staff were easily identified by their distinctive and brightly coloured blazers yellow jackets for Runners and badges with three-letter IDs called 'Mnemonics'.
The exchange floor was an extremely noisy place with Phone Brokers and Pit Traders shouting instructions to each other and Exchange Officials overseeing their conduct and confirming trades.
Exchange members Banks and Brokers would pay a premium to have a booth position close to the trading pits to enable slightly easier communication with their pit traders. However the most common form of communication was via hand signals, not too dissimilar to tic-tac that a bookmaker would use at a racecourse.
Contract prices were signalled with the hand held away from the body with the palm of the hand facing away meaning to sell and the palm of the hand facing towards oneself meaning to buy. Contract quantities were communicated with the hand touching the body with individual units displayed on the chin, tens of units on the forehead, hundreds and thousands of units on the forearm again with the hand facing away meaning to sell and towards oneself to buy.
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