The Shanghai Futures Exchange is seeking support from brokers to launch night trading of gold contracts in its bid to become a global player. The proposed pilot scheme aims to boost market liquidity and align the mainland's commodity futures market with international practices, exchange officials told brokerage executives on Friday. According to an executive who attended the meeting, the exchange has started work on a plan to allow evening trading of gold contracts, but has to win support from domestic brokerages which were concerned about the profitability of their businesses. No timetable was given for the implementation of the night sessions, the executive said. The Shanghai Futures Exchange trades from 9am to 11.30am, then from 1.30pm to 3pm. The executive said the exchange has proposed a session from 8pm to midnight, to allow trading on the domestic exchange to keep pace with markets in the United States. The exchange declined to comment on Friday. It appears that brokerages are reluctant to extend their trading sessions because they fear the additional trading fees they collect might not offset the additional operating costs. The mainland's futures brokerages are grappling with thin profit margins. The regulator's cautious stance on derivatives also hampers expansion of their revenue sources. Contracts traded on the Shanghai Futures Exchange include copper, zinc, steel and rubber. The trading volume of gold futures is relatively small. 'Gold was picked for the trial programme because it is more popular among individual mainlanders and is more likely to attract new investors when the night session opens,' Yongan Futures Brokerage analyst Huang Lei said. 'It is certain to add liquidity to the gold contracts if trading is extended, but the regulator has to convince the brokerages of the necessity to do so.' Major commodity trading houses in Chicago and London offer near round-the-clock services so that traders around the world can follow commodity price changes without interruption. The Hong Kong Mercantile Exchange is open from 8am to 11pm. The proposal to extend trading hours on the Shanghai market reflects the mainland's ambition to integrate itself into the global trading network as it gradually opens its futures market, which is currently closed to foreign players. Only mainland-incorporated foreign companies are allowed to operate as traders in futures on the mainland exchanges. The executive said the extended trading hours would apply to other contracts if the pilot scheme proved successful. If linked to full convertibility of the yuan, extended trading hours of the mainland's futures market could attract a flood of foreign traders. Analysts said the proposal by the Shanghai exchange represented only a baby step by the regulator to liberalise the sector, but it demonstrated Beijing's long-term goal to wield its influence in the global commodities market. China looks also to internationalise the yuan, and a developed futures markets at home would provide a catalyst to a wider use of the currency in international trade settlement. The currency cannot be freely converted, but it is believed that Beijing aimed to make the yuan fully convertible before 2020, by which time, it has pledged, Shanghai would be transformed into a major player in the global financial world. 'They carefully planned their 2020 road map for Shanghai,' Dean Owen, China chief of US brokerage Newedge, said. 'Probably they have planned every single step towards the full convertibility of the yuan. Eventually, I believe Shanghai will take its place as one of the major financial centres in the world.'