The Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade are considering some changes in trading procedures that could clear the way for a merger of the rival futures exchanges.

A joint strategic committee of the two exchanges, formed in response to concerns about cost that have been raised by the futures arms of banks and big securities firms, voted last month at its first meeting to make the merger a long-term goal. The committee next meets March 26, and it hopes to produce a written report in early July.

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