The shift to electronic trading of Hang Seng Index (HSI) futures and options from open outcry yesterday went far better than expected, according to Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing officials and brokers. 'This was a big day for the exchange, and everything went smoothly,' futures exchange chief executive Frederick Grede said. 'Volume was very encouraging.' The volume of HSI futures traded on the Hong Kong Automated Trading System (HKATS) was 8,784 contracts, up slightly from 8,740 on Friday. In HSI options, 3,244 contracts changed hands, up from 1,344 on Friday and the highest level since April 18. 'Customer feedback from the first day of electronic trading was very positive,' said Eugene Law Ka-kin, chief operating officer at Celestial Futures. Last week, both Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing officials and brokers expressed concerned trading volume of HSI products could drop sharply in the initial days of electronic trading. At a morning news conference yesterday, Mr Grede cautioned it could take 'a few weeks or months for investors to become accustomed to the new system'. But by yesterday afternoon, optimism was the prevailing mood of the day. 'Customers are very satisfied,' said Sammy Lo, dealing director at ASG Futures. 'And trading is much faster. We did more than two times normal business today.' Kenny Yan King-tang, dealing director at Tung Tai Futures, said that under the open outcry system, the time from order sending to confirmation took about 25 seconds. 'Today, the time was reduced to about 10 seconds,' he said. Despite the promising first day for the electronic trading of HSI products, Alan Chak, sales manager at Fimat Futures Hong Kong, said that the strong performance was mostly a carry over of a Friday rally in United States markets. He also said volumes would have been higher if HSI products had been traded through open outcry. 'Given the situation, I think turnover of HSI futures would have reached 12,000 contracts through open outcry,' Mr Chak said. But Gilbert Langner, the director of US-based Timber Hill, said trading would have been at about the same levels with the old system. 'The market was 500 to 600 points higher at the opening. The move did not happen during the day,' Mr Langner said. Mr Langner attributed the high volumes to increased transparency brought about by HKATS. '[With HKATS] you can see the market immediately, and know where the bids and the asks are,' he said. 'You don't need to call someone to do these.' Brokers said electronic trading of HSI products attracted more retail investors yesterday, especially options. 'I expect many more retail investors to come to the options market because of the increased transparency of trading and faster access to the market,' Mr Langner said.