Low interest rates and dismal stock market returns are driving Hong Kong investors to trade in commodity futures offered in European and United States markets, according to an international futures broker. Fimat Futures (Hong Kong) managing director Emmanuel Faure said his firm has seen trading in such products by SAR investors increase 300 per cent in the past year. Preferred products include futures and options on oil, sugar, soybeans and copper traded in the futures exchanges of the United States and Europe. 'When you cannot make money in the stock market; when you cannot make money in bank deposit, you may think about investing in commodities futures,' Mr Faure said. With little indication of a turnaround in world stock markets, he said the trend of punting in overseas commodity markets would be sustained. The firm's Hong Kong equity futures and options business has also seen a 35-40 per cent increase in volume during the first eight months of the year compared with the same period last year. Most activity was coming from overseas investors, he said. 'Again, when the local stock market is not doing so well, people's focus shifts to futures trading,' he said. The SAR's stock market average daily turnover is down 18 per cent year on year during the first eight months to HK$6.98 billion, according to figures of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing. By contrast, trading in Hang Seng Index futures during the first eight months of this year rose 9.9 per cent while volume in mini-Hang Seng Index futures climbed 52.6 per cent. Hang Seng Index options activity saw a 39.7 per cent rise. The firm employs a 'global broker' strategy, forming only one branch in each market but linking with domestic brokers to access their local clients. In Hong Kong, it has linked up with 10 local brokers. 'The local brokers know their clients while Fimat can provide an international network for them to trade,' he said.