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Liffe steps up battle with new European stock indices

THE LONDON International Financial Futures and Options Exchange (Liffe) yesterday stepped up the battle with its Continental rivals with the launch of a series of contract-based pan-European stock indices.

Liffe said that from Tuesday investors would be able to trade five new instruments which track the movements of hundreds of European stocks.

The new benchmarks include the Eurobloc 100 index, made up of the 100 biggest companies in the euro zone, and a Eurotop 300, which also comprises firms in the UK, Sweden and Switzerland.

They are modelled on the Eurotop 100, which has been traded on Liffe for more than eight years.

The new contracts, to be traded through Liffe's new electronic platform, will enable institutions to hedge their positions and limit their losses in a number of European indices.

Futures and options are used by professional investors as a cover against sharp movements in their portfolios.

Liffe's move is part of the UK exchange's strategy to regain market share in the face of fierce competition from its Continental counterparts.

The new indices will go head-to-head with similar contracts traded on European exchanges. Matif, the French future exchange, and its German peer Eurex already offer the Stoxx 50, developed by the US information group Dow Jones.

Guy Simpkin, Liffe's director of product development, said: "There is a clear need to have a broader benchmark which includes Europe's top stocks."