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Change comes to the Frankfurt Stock Exchange

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HOST: So German stocks are up about a tenth of a percent, as I said a moment ago. That’s according to the so-called DAX index, which tracks the goings-on at the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. Well, turns out that exchange is in for major changes.

Marketplace’s David Brancaccio is tracking how the economy is evolving for our series Economy 4.0, and he filed this report from Frankfurt.

DAVID BRANCACCIO: On the trading floor of the Frankfurt stock exchange, I see no yelling or wild gesticulating. It’s the hushed intensity of a master control room with traders arranged in computer-lined bull-rings. The dominant sound is this: Electronic tiles flip through rapidly changing stock prices on the scoreboards overhead.

Financial journalist Bernard Junemann has an office across the courtyard from this trading floor.

BERNARD JUNEMANN: German stock exchange decided that this is a good marketing instrument. So you have more television stations on the gallery than you have traders on the floor.

The main work of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange is really miles away in an even more space-age facility, where we find Rainer Riess, a managing director at the German exchange.

RAINER RIESS: Today the Frankfurt floor is predominantly connected to German banks and brokerages.

Riess is preparing for the big day in May when engineers here will flip a switch, and much of Europe will get instant electronic access to the 10,000 stocks and other financial instruments that trade there.

RIESS: All 250 members in 19 countries will be able to trade directly. So most banks and brokerages from throughout Europe will have a direct connection and can send orders to the Frankfurt Stock Exchange more easily.

Old way: “Hi, Hans in Frankfurt? This is Javier in Madrid. A client wants Volkswagen stock, what’s your price?” The new way: Javier hits a button.

RIESS: In the future, what will happen is actually that a Spanish bank can directly enter the trade, will immediately see the execution on their screen and can electronically inform their customer in Spain.

Or Sweden, Italy, most of Europe, electronically. Does this mean they’ll shut down the trading floor where human beings have been part of stock trading since 1896? No. There will still be some humans on the floor who can intervene in the digital chain of events so things are orderly and the prices are right. Plus, they need something for those TV cameras.

In Frankfurt, I’m David Brancaccio for Marketplace.

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