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For Immediate Release
May 15, 2000

For more information contact:
Laura M. Oatney
(312) 781-1370 or
Jennifer Bucko
(312) 781-1373
http://www.nfa.futures.org

National Futures Association and Merchants' Exchange Sign Regulatory Services Agreement

Chicago, May 15 - National Futures Association (NFA) has entered into an agreement with the Merchants' Exchange of St. Louis LLC (Merchants' Exchange) to provide regulatory services to the exchange. Both NFA and the Merchants' Exchange will be using state-of-the-art technology that will provide users of this market with an efficient way to trade, while insuring the highest level of integrity. The Merchants' Exchange will be trading deliverable Illinois Waterway and St. Louis Harbor barge freight futures contracts using its electronic trading system.

Upon the Merchants' Exchange's approval by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) as a contract market, NFA will perform trade practice and market surveillance activities for the Merchants' Exchange. Approval by the CFTC is expected shortly. In addition, NFA will perform background checks, investigate and litigate any disciplinary matters that may arise, perform auditing and financial surveillance functions as the CFTC regulations require and offer its arbitration program for dispute resolution.

This is the first of many such arrangements NFA hopes to develop with electronic exchanges. According to Yvonne Downs, Senior Vice President of Compliance, "We are very excited about working with the Merchants' Exchange. Trade practice and market surveillance are new services here at NFA, but we've had 18 years experience in the other regulatory areas and we believe we can give new entrants into this market high quality yet cost effective assistance with their regulatory needs. Our goal is to reduce the barriers to entry in this area and help the Merchants' Exchange be successful."

NFA is the industrywide self-regulatory organization for the U.S. futures industry.

NFA is the premier independent provider of efficient and innovative regulatory programs that safeguard the integrity of the derivatives markets.
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