The Hang Seng 100 products will be screen-traded from today on the Hong Kong Futures Exchange's (HKFE) automated trading system (ATS). In April last year, the exchange's board of directors decided that all new futures and options contracts would be traded on ATS, which it sees as a natural progression in the global marketplace. By the end of next year, trading in the flagship Hang Seng Index contract should have moved on to the system from the trading floor where it is currently traded using the open outcry method. In deciding to migrate HSI futures to ATS, the exchange has had to take into account the unique nature of the move: never before has an exchange moved a high-volume established futures or options contract from open outcry to electronic order-matching. Exhaustive studies were required before the exchange felt confident the move could be accomplished while preserving the market's liquidity and fairness. In January, the exchange said the HSI migration would be finished within 18 to 24 months, but is now confident of meeting its own end-of-1999 deadline. One of the main advantages of moving to screen trading is that it removes any physical limits to the volume of instruments traded or the number of members who can take part simultaneously. On ATS, orders are electronically matched, based on the price and time the instruction was entered. Offer, bid and transaction prices are available immediately, providing what the exchange describes as 'the highest level of price and market transparency'. Currently, 81 of the exchange's 130 members have ATS capability and the number is growing fast. In the world market, the trend is for futures to trade on screens and move away from physical trading floors. Eurex, a Swiss-German screen-based operation, recently displaced the London Interna tional Financial Futures and Options Exchange as Europe's biggest derivatives exchange by winning most of London's business in the German Bund contract. Eurex has since signed up with the Chicago Board of Trade to develop a new electronic trading system. According to the board, which currently uses open outcry, the new system will be able to approximate open outcry in operation. The exchanges are seeking an Asian partner for the screen trading venture. Calvin Tai, head of the product development department at the HKFE, said the exchange was swimming with a successful tide by moving to full-screen trading.