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(Bloomberg) -- Intercontinental Exchange Inc., the parent of the New York Stock Exchange, won an approval that clears the way for its Bakkt unit to allow investors to buy derivatives that pay out with Bitcoins for the first time.The New York State Department of Financial Services on Friday granted a charter to Bakkt Trust Co. to hold custody of customers’ tokens. The futures had already gotten a green light from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission under a self-certification process. The first contracts will be offered Sept. 23.“We believe that the availability of a benchmark that can be referenced globally will create confidence in the true price of Bitcoin,” Kelly Loeffler, Bakkt’s chief executive officer, said in a telephone interview. “It’s an important step in creating more trust.”Despite its status of the world’s most valuable cryptocurrency, Bitcoin is known for wild price swings that some say are the result of manipulation. Digital tokens trade on platforms that face far less regulatory scrutiny than exchanges for stocks or derivatives. Many of the venues are also located outside the U.S.According to Loeffler, the fragmented nature of Bitcoin trading means that there’s a lack of confidence of prices. She said that ICE’s futures contracts will lead to a new one-year price curve for Bitcoin that traders can use to express views on the cryptocurrency as they would with other asset classes.Some of the brokerages who already work with ICE to trade futures have agreed to also handle the crypto contracts, according to Bakkt.ICE has said its ultimate goal is to create an ecosystem that would encourage pension funds, endowments and other institutions to invest more money in cryptocurrencies, and make it much easier for consumers to buy products with the cryptocurrency. The venture, announced to much fanfare in August 2018, has lined up big-name backers, including Starbucks Inc. and Microsoft Inc.The goal is to have Bakkt serve as backbone of digital payment infrastructure at retailers starting in 2020, Loeffler said.Bakkt had faced months of delays amid skepticism from the CFTC officials around how clients’ tokens would be stored, and thus safeguarded from possible theft and manipulation, according to people familiar with the matter. The concerns prompted ICE to seek the license from New York.While ICE’s Bakkt futures won’t be the first Bitcoin futures to be listed on a major U.S. derivatives exchange, they could be the most significant for the burgeoning crypto industry. CME Group Inc. and Cboe Global Markets Inc. launched contracts in December 2017 that pay out in U.S. dollars on expiration, not actual Bitcoin. The Cboe no longer offers them.When Bakkt’s one-day and one-month contracts expire they would pay out in Bitcoin tokens instead of U.S. dollars. The futures will be exchange-traded on ICE Futures U.S. and cleared on ICE Clear US, which are federally regulated by the CFTC.Bitcoin erased losses of as much as 6% to trade little changed at about $10,400 after the announcement. The largest cryptocurrency has dropped about 13% this week. It traded around $7,400 when the the venture was first announced.(Adds comments from Bakkt CEO in fourth and fifth paragraphs.)\--With assistance from Olga Kharif.To contact the reporter on this story: Ben Bain in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jeremy Herron at email@example.com, Dave Liedtka, Gregory MottFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
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(Bloomberg) -- Shares of Virtu Financial Inc. plummeted 18% on Thursday to the lowest since December 2017 after reporting results that raised questions about volatility and the profitability of trading. Tradeweb Markets Inc. also fell 3.5% to the lowest since early July, despite its better-than-expected earnings.Virtu’s second-quarter profit missed the lowest analyst estimate, while CEO Douglas Cifu on the company’s conference call said that “market volume in this quarter presented one of the lowest market making opportunities in many years,” including “significantly less retail engagement.”Cifu also said he hoped President Trump would keep tweeting -- which can spur volatility -- as “that’s a good thing for our business.” August, which has featured an increase in U.S.-China trade tensions after Trump tweeted about higher tariffs, has seen a “material increase” in volatility after July’s market conditions were similar to those in the second quarter, Cifu said.Virtu’s trading activity fell in a “muted environment,” though August has so far been better, Jefferies’ analyst Daniel Fannon wrote in a note. Compass Point’s Chris Allen wrote that “we were expecting a soft quarter, but even in that context results were disappointing.”Shares of Tradeweb, an electronic trading platform that trades Treasuries, bonds and derivatives, initially rose after its second-quarter revenue and adjusted earnings per share topped analysts’ estimates. Yet, the stock erased the gain to fall as much as 5% by mid-morning.On his conference call, Tradeweb CEO Lee Olesky said the company reported record results amid “a challenging environment for trading in a market characterized by low volatility.”“Wholesale and institutional channels are much more active in volatile movements and we expect to continue to see that,” Olesky said on the call. Retail brokers, however “tend to be less inclined to buy bonds at the same clip as other sectors during bouts of volatility.”Citi analyst Ben Herbert noted that Tradeweb’s July equities average daily volume of $5.3 billion missed his estimate of $6.4 billion. Overall, he found “not much to dislike” in the results.Retail broker clients account for only about 10% to 12% of revenue, according to Tradeweb. Equities accounts for 4% to 5% of total revenue, the company said.Exchange stocks, including Intercontinental Exchange Inc., Cboe Global Markets Inc. and CME Group Inc. underperformed financial stocks as a whole on Thursday, as did trading-sensitive Goldman Sachs Group Inc. In Canada, though, Toronto Stock Exchange parent TMX Group rose to a record high.The worst performer -- and only decliner -- in the S&P 500 Financials Index early Thursday afternoon was Charles Schwab Corp., which extended losses for a second day after Fidelity said it would automatically direct investors’ cash into higher yielding options.(Adds size of retail and equities business in seventh paragraph. A previous version of this story corrected an analyst name and details of the results.)To contact the reporter on this story: Felice Maranz in New York at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Catherine Larkin at email@example.com, Courtney DentchFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.