Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) is a leading operator of exchanges and marketplaces across the North-America, Europe, and Asia. On this page, you’ll learn how the ICE operates, what you can trade on its exchanges, and how it’s regulated. You’ll also find answers to commonly-asked questions about the ICE.
What is ICE?
The Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) establishes, operates, acquires, and grows global marketplaces for listing, trading, and clearing commodities, derivatives, shares, fixed income, ETFs, and other financial products.
ICE marketplaces also play a key role in capital formation for companies across the globe.
ICE and its portfolio of companies operate global electronic trading platforms that enable users worldwide to access markets in all of the products it trades.
It also operates broker services or OTC markets and a network of clearing and data services.
What Does ICE Offer Clients?
ICE provides a range of products and services, including:
- Markets – ICE operates regulated and liquid markets that offer trading in a variety of asset classes across multiple global exchanges.
- Clearing and Risk Management – ICE operates six clearing houses that serve derivative asset classes in the United States, United Kingdom, Europe, Canada, and Singapore.
- Listings – ICE operates the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), which is one of the most recognizable equity markets in the world. The family of exchanges operated by the NYSE Group within ICE trades more US equity volume than any other exchange group.
- Technology – ICE’s range of technology products supports every part of the trade lifecycle from price discovery and execution to clearing and settlement.
- Data – ICE has a range of data products used by quote distributors, traders, risk managers and brokers to obtain actionable information in a variety of formats.
- Customer Service – ICE customer service help desks, technical account managers, and product experts answer questions and provide tutorials on ICE products for customers.
What Can You Trade With ICE?
ICE offers trading in futures, options, over-the-counter (OTC) products, and physicals across the following asset classes:
- Credit Derivatives
- Interest Rates
- Digital Assets
- Fixed Income
ICE offers customers access to trading a range of products in the different asset classes.
|Asset Class||Products||Exchange||Market Facts|
|Agricultural||ICE offers futures and options on the following agricultural commodities:||IFUS|
|Some ICE agricultural futures are financially settled, while others are physically settled.|
|Credit||ICE offers two five-year credit index futures:||IFUS||Both products are cash settled futures contracts with $100,000 notional principal.|
|Energy||ICE offers futures and options on energy commodities spanning eight categories:||IFEU|
|Equity Derivatives||ICE products include futures and options and cover these product groups:||IFLL|
|ICE offers futures and options contracts on some of the most popular indexes and shares.|
|Forex||ICE offers futures on the following currency groups:||IFUS|
|ICE also offers options contracts on the ICE US Dollar Index.|
|Freight||ICE offers futures on the following freight categories:||IFEU||ICE also offers average price options on some freight products.|
|Interest Rates||ICE offers futures and options on the following interest rate categories:||IFLL||Interest Rate products cover popular markets in Europe as well as Eurodollar and the notional bond future Swapnote.|
|Metals||ICE offers futures and optionson these metals commodities:||IFUS|
|Most ICE metals futures are physically settled. Iron ore contracts are financially (cash) settled.|
|Environmental||ICE offers futures and options on futures on both financial and physical environmental futures.||IFED||Physical environmental commodity futures include, among other contracts, the following: |
|OTC ||ICE OTC products include the following:||ICES|
|ICE OTC physical energy contracts include the following: |
|Digital Assets||ICE offers futures trading on Bitcoin.||IFUS|
|ICE's Bakkt Warehouse acts as custodian for digital assets.|
How is ICE Regulated?
ICE has a trading and clearing presence across the globe, and, therefore, falls under the regulatory jurisdiction of many global agencies and regulators.
A few of the more prominent ICE markets and regulatory regimes applicable to prominent ICE markets include:
Commodity exchanges in the United States fall under the regulation of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). The CFTC’s mission is to facilitate “open, transparent, competitive, and financially sound markets.”
The agency works to limit systemic problems and safeguard market participants, consumers and the general public from fraud, manipulation, and abusive practices.
NYSE Regulation (NYSER) is a division of the NYSE responsible for monitoring activities on the NYSE stock, bond and options markets and addressing non-compliance with NYSE rules and federal securities laws.
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and other self-regulatory organizations (SROs) also perform regulatory functions in US share markets.
As a result of the 2008 global financial crisis, the EU made the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID) (an EU regulation designed to increase transparency across all member nations) more expansive and created MiFID II and Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation (MiFIR).
These changes went into effect in January 2018. Mifid II made the reporting requirements of derivative contracts more stringent. Commodity contracts are subject to position limits and more onerous reporting requirements under MiFID II.
ICE Futures Europe and ICE Endex (a European natural gas and power trading exchange) have instituted rigorous procedures to ensure compliance with MiFID II requirements.
Wholesale Energy Markets Integrity and Transparency Regulation
Regulation on Wholesale Energy Markets Integrity and Transparency (REMIT) is an EU regulation designed to increase transparency and stability in European energy markets.
REMIT prohibits, among other things, insider trading and market manipulation in energy markets and requires market participants to register with the appropriate national regulatory agencies and report wholesale energy transactions.
REMIT also authorizes regulators to collect transaction reports and regulate energy market participants. ICE Futures Europe and ICE Endex have implemented REMIT reporting facilities to comply with these regulations.
European Market Infrastructure Regulation
The European Market Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR) is European legislation for the regulation of over-the-counter derivatives.
EMIR requires that counterparties and central counterparty clearing houses report the details of all derivatives contracts as well as any modifications to those contracts and termination of the contracts.
The ICE Platform
All ICE futures and options trading takes place through a Globally-Distributed Single Point of Access.
ICE’s single platform gives traders access to all of the futures and options markets and the tools for managing a trading account.
The ICE platform is app-based. Traders receive five basic apps with the platform:
|Apps Included in ICE Platform||Functionality|
|Position Keeper||Allows traders to easily track their risk and check P&L for individual positions or the whole portfolio in real time.|
|Live Quotes and Customized Request for Quotes (RFQs)||Shows traders real-time market activity and allows for customization of the data presentation.|
|Real-Time Market Alerts||Allows traders to set customized alerts to match their trading strategies.|
|Charting Tools||Allows traders to analyze price and volume trends by using a variety of charting, drawing and technical tools.|
|Smart Order Entry||Allows traders to customize criteria for triggering orders.|
Traders can also download these optional apps:
- Instant messaging – Provides traders with access to a directory of other ICE marketplace participants
- News Feeds – Delivers breaking market news to traders
- Options Analytics – An advanced app for pricing options and managing risk
How Can You Connect To The ICE Platform?
ICE offers four options for connecting to its platform:
- Direct Market Access: ICE uses Secure Financial Transaction Infrastructure (SFTI®) Direct Market Access (DMA) to allow traders to connect to global markets through a single, secure point of access. Traders can obtain the full list of DMA options on the ICE website.
- Wireless: ICE offers ultra-low latency wireless routes designed to deliver fast connections needed for capital markets trading.
- Colocation & Hosting: ICE has several options for colocation or proximity hosting to ICE markets.
ICE also offers front-, middle-, and back-office solutions for receiving data feeds from the exchange and ordering tick history services.
Brief History of ICE
The founder of ICE, Jeffrey Sprecher, developed and operated power plants in the 1990s. He saw the need for an organized and fully functioning market in natural gas for electricity power generators.
In 1997, Sprecher acquired Continental Power Exchange, Inc. for the purpose of developing and building an electronic platform for the over-the-counter energy market.
In May 2000, Sprecher and a small group of his colleagues launched ICE.
In 2001, ICE expanded into energy futures trading with the acquisition of International Petroleum Exchange. In 2002, ICE introduced the industry’s first cleared OTC energy contracts.
By the mid-2000s, ICE began to grow through numerous product launches and acquisitions. Some of the key additions to the ICE portfolio of products and services include the following:
|New York Board of Trade (NYBOT) – an exchange that trades many soft commodities|
Winnipeg Commodity Exchange – an exchange that later became ICE Futures Canada
|Creditex – a credit default swap (CDS) broker|
YellowJacket - an instant messaging platform for traders that later became ICE Chat
|Climate Exchange – an exchange that expanded ICE presence in emissions trading||2010|
|NYSE Euronext – acquisition makes ICE a leader in many asset classes including interest rates and shares. The purchase also included the NYSE Liffe Exchange, which is Europe’s second-largest derivatives exchange (see below).||2013|
|Interactive Data Corporation – an industry leader in providing financial market data and analytics||2015|
|Standard & Poor’s Securities Evaluations, Inc. (SPSE) - a leading provider of fixed income evaluated pricing|
MERSCORP Holdings - a national electronic registry system that tracks the changes in servicing rights and beneficial ownership interests in mortgage loans
|NGX – a Canadian energy exchange and clearinghouse||2017|
What Is The NYSE Liffe Exchange?
ICE controls NYSE Liffe as the result of a series of takeovers. Euronext acquired the Liffe exchange in 2002. The NYSE then acquired Euronext in 2007 and formed NYSE Euronext.
In 2013, ICE acquired NYSE Euronext to help bolster its European futures presence. In June 2014, ICE spun off Euronext (excluding Liffe) through an initial public offering (IPO). ICE retained Liffe and integrated it into its ICE Futures Europe business.
What Market Data Does ICE Offer?
ICE makes a variety of different types of market data available to its customers.
- Real-Time Market Data – ICE real-time market data is available in all asset classes and in a variety of different formats.
- Historical Data – ICE historical data is available in a variety of different formats and reports.
- NYSE Data – ICE keeps an extensive library of listed quotes, market reports, transaction data, and statistics for NYSE products. Daily share volumes are available as far back as the 1880s.
- Quote and Data Distribution – ICE Data distributes its data to authorized parties for use in applications.
- ICE Proprietary Data – ICE makes its data available in the form of a View Only Service. This subscription provides real-time access to trading activity.
What Market Services Does ICE Offer?
ICE offers a variety of services to market participants:
- Evaluated Pricing and Mark-to-Market Data – ICE provides evaluations across commodities, equities, FX, and fixed income markets. These evaluations can help traders value illiquid and thinly traded securities.
- Reference Data – ICE provides reference data for 10 million instruments. This enables traders to track information such as terms and conditions, corporate actions, entity linkages, and identification information.
- Analytics Tools – ICE provides fixed income tools to help portfolio managers with risk management, regulatory compliance, and investment decisions.
- Index Services – ICE designs and distributes indexes used as benchmarks in equities, fixed income, and derivatives markets.
- ICE Benchmark Administration – ICE licenses the use and redistribution of benchmarks LIBOR, LBMA Gold Price, and ICE Swap Rate. These benchmarks play a key role in areas such as determining loan and mortgage rates and the price jewelers charge buyers for gold.
- Regulatory Support – ICE provides tools to help institutions comply with the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA), MiFIR, MiFID II, and other regulatory requirements.
- Securities Evaluations – ICE Data Services Securities Evaluations provides end-of-day evaluated prices for CDs, corporate and government securities, structured finance instruments, and US municipal bonds.
- Managed Services – ICE can procure, configure, and manage connectivity for its customers.
What Are the ICE Membership Options?
Each ICE Futures exchange has its own individual policies and applications for membership. In addition, each exchange has its own classes of membership. Traders should consult the ICE website for specific details.
However, traders may not have to obtain a membership to access ICE futures markets. For example, ICE Futures US does not require a membership to trade its products.
Traders simply need to apply for trading access after receiving authorization from an ICE Futures US Clearing Member. Traders can obtain the participation request forms at the membership section of the ICE Futures US website.
However, other ICE exchanges require various levels of membership, so traders should consult the particular membership site for more details.
What Are ICE Margin Requirements?
ICE operates six clearing houses across North America, Europe, and Asia These clearing houses ensure that the exchange employs the necessary procedures to protect market integrity and safeguard market participants from systemic risk.
Each ICE clearing house tries to balance market safeguards with the optimization of capital efficiency. Specific margin requirements vary among the clearing houses.
SPAN® Margin Model
Most ICE clearing houses use the SPAN® Margin Model to calculate futures and options margin on at least a daily basis. Traders generally have to post initial margin based on the riskiness of a position and any possible offsets the clearing firm may apply.
Sometimes clearing firms will require additional margin to account for factors such as illiquidity, concentration risk in an asset class or other factors.
Clearing Account Types
ICE offers different types of account structures that could impact the type of margin required to trade. Accounts where assets are segregated offer the individual account holder more protection, but may be costly in terms of margin.
On the other hand, co-mingled or omnibus segregated client accounts may provide margin relief since positions can offset one another.
What Are the ICE Fees and Charges for Traders?
Each ICE exchange has its own exchange and clearing fees. Fees vary according to factors such as whether a trade is a regular screen trade, a crossing trade or a block trade. Traders should consult the Exchange & Clearing Fees documents for more details.
In addition, ICE assesses monthly data fees for providing market information to traders. Traders can consult the document outlining these fees for details.
What Educational Materials Does ICE Offer?
ICE offers global training and educational classes for traders with all levels of experience.
Courses include live in-person instruction, video on demand and customized training for large organizations and companies. ICE courses cover all asset classes traded on its exchanges. Traders can find a schedule and course fees, where applicable, on the ICE Education section of the website.
New traders may benefit from the introductory videos and e-learning content ICE offers. Introductory videos topics include the following:
- The Brent market
- What is an ETP trade and how do they work?
- Introduction to Oil Swaps
- Introduction to Delivery
- Introduction to Banking
- Introduction to Margin
Does ICE Have Vendor Partners?
ICE depends on its robust software platform to attract and retain customers.
To facilitate software development on this platform, the exchange allows outside software companies to create software applications that connect to its API.
The following companies developing on the ICE platform have passed conformance certification requirements:
How To Start Trading
An alternative way to speculate on the prices of commodities traded on the ICE exchanges is through online brokerages offering derivatives like CFDs and options.
Traders in can open an account at one of these regulated brokers to begin trading, or read our in-depth reviews to learn more.
CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. Between 74%-89% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs. You should consider whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
- Learn more about the world’s largest commodity exchanges including Euronext, the European Energy Exchange (EEX), the Zhengzhou Commodity Exchange (ZCE), the Deutsche Borse Group, the Multi (CMX) of India, and the Brasil Bolsa Balcão.
- If you’d like a primer on how to trade commodities in general, please see our introduction to commodity trading.