Intercontinental Exchange, the leading operator of global energy derivative exchanges and clearing houses, reported an increase in first-quarter revenues as it continued to launch new products to meet customer demand, including most recently LNG freight futures and a range of Abu Dhabi oil futures and options.
ICE said in the quarter ended March 31, 2021, consolidated net revenues were $1.8 billion, up 15 percent year-over-year including exchange net revenues of $974M, fixed income and data services revenues of $468M and mortgage technology revenues of $355M.
Revenue from energy trading products dropped by 12 percent overall in the quarter after the winter peak to $310M from $353M in the same three months of $2020.
Exchanges operating income for the first quarter came to $653M and operating margin was 67 percent.
ICE, based in Atlanta, Georgia, launched its LNG freight futures contracts on March 23 based on price assessments from Spark Commodities with 30 lots traded on the first day.
First day trading included 15 lots of Spark30S Atlantic and 15 lots of Spark25S Pacific LNG freight futures contracts for the June 2021 contract expiry.
These first trades involved some of the LNG industry’s leading market participants including Total, Gunvor, Vitol, and Glencore, and were brokered by Clarksons, showing strong support for the new contracts.
ICE introduced the new LNG freight futures based on price assessments from Spark Commodities, a provider of technology-based solutions for promoting market liquidity.
Singapore-based Spark is backed by French data firm Kpler and EEX, part of the Deutsche Börse Group.
LNG and gas products
The ICE freight contracts form part of ICE's global natural gas complex alongside existing benchmark natural gas and LNG derivatives such as the Dutch TTF, the UK National Balancing Point, US Henry Hub, JKM LNG (Platts) and the West India Marker (WIM LNG) contracts.
“We are pleased to report strong first-quarter results that extend our track-record of growth. As we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic, never have our digital networks proven more needed and resilient,” said Jeffrey C. Sprecher, ICE Chairman and Chief Executive.
“We are grateful to our customers that continue to rely on our technology, data and market infrastructure, and we remain focused on innovating across asset classes to drive greater efficiency and transparency,” declared Sprecher.
Adjusted net income attributable to ICE increased by 9 percent to $758M compared with $695M in the 2020 first quarter.
Free cash flow amounted to $702M versus $434M in the prior-year period.
At the end of the quarter on March 31, ICE launched its oil futures contract for LNG exporter Abu Dhabi and a total of 8,854 cleared lots were traded on the first day.
The start of trading of the ICE Murban Crude Oil Futures (IFAN) had been delayed from 2020 by the market oil market slump and Covid-19.
ICE Murban Crude Oil Futures opened for trading alongside 18 Murban-related cash settled derivatives and inter-commodity spreads, offering the market the broadest range of ways to trade and hedge Murban crude.
Market activity on ICE Futures Abu Dhabi on the first day of trading included 6,344 ICE Murban Crude Oil futures contracts and 2,510 Murban related cash settled derivative contracts.
A total of 27 firms traded on day one of the launch.