A wild start in commodities pits

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Hectic scenes marked the opening of the world's largest commodity trading floor as traders struggled to cope with temperamental communications and new acoustics, which some said made the markets even noisier than usual.

''They've just built the world's biggest echo chamber,'' groaned a trader who gave up trying to communicate in the corn pit. Commodity futures contracts are negotiated through the ''open outcry'' system in which participants communicate by bellowing out orders and exchanging hand signals.

The new 32,000-square-foot floor, part of a $100 million annex to the Board of Trade, includes pits for trading in grains, soybeans, and plywood. The old main floor of the exchange opened in 1930.

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