The Chicago Board of Trade on March 30 will expand Project A, its electronic after-hours trading system, to an overnight session.

Project A, which started operations in October 1994, allows market players to trade futures in an afternoon session after the close of the open outcry market.

Since its launch, Project A trading has averaged 1,789 contracts a day. A one-day record was set Nov. 22, the day of a large late-session decline in the stock market, when 11,375 contracts were exchanged. That accounted for about one-third of the system's total volume of 34,182 contracts traded in November.

In December, 29,283 contracts were traded on Project A.

The strong volume gives the Chicago board an edge over its cross-town rival, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. On a couple of occasions the volume on Project A has topped products traded on Globex, the exchange's after- hours system.

What might limit Project A's overnight usage, however, is its limited geographical reach. The system's 71 active workstations are located only in New York, Chicago, and Greenwich, Conn. So far, 54 firms have subscribed to the system.

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