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Trading European Currencies Markets In Wee Hours Of The Morning

March 30, 1985

CHICAGO (AP) _ Foreign currency trader Mike Nachman deals with millions of dollars each day, but he can’t find a place that will sell him a beer and pizza at 8 a.m.

That can be a problem when you work the graveyard shift, 11:30 p.m. to 8 a.m., in the foreign exchange division of Harris Trust and Savings Bank’s investment department.

Working alone, Nachman spents his ″work night″ in a big office full of desks, printers and computer screens, trading on the telephone with money markets in Europe.

It’s not a work schedule for someone with a family, says Nachman, 32, who is single and lives on Chicago’s fashionable Near North Side.

His social life is far from normal.

″It’s only normal on the weekends,″ he says.

He does enjoy a jump on the weekends, leaving work at 8 a.m. Fridays. But he must return at midnight on Sunday night.

As he arrives at work, Asian money markets are winding down while markets in Europe are preparing to open.

When he leaves the Harris Bank building, it seems like 5 p.m. to his stomach.

″My biggest problem is finding a place that serves a beer and pizza at 8 a.m.,″ he said.

Nachman also misses the camaraderie of the other traders and admits the job can be lonely at times. But he is ready to leave the office when the first daytime traders start wandering in.

″I’m pretty beat from a busy night, and I feel out of place when people are waltzing around in a three-piece suit and I’m in jeans and T-shirt,″ he said.

He dresses that way because ″it gets uncomfortable with the air conditioner shut off all night.″

A native of Stevens Point, Wis., and a liberal arts major at University of Notre Dame, Nachman has been trading in foreign currencies for the past seven years, most of that time with Harris.

When the idea of Harris trading on European money markets was suggested by the bank’s corporate customers, Nachman volunteered for the overnight duty and began working the shift in June.

″Citibank is the only other service that we know of in North America that provides 24-hour trading,″ said Nachman’s boss, Jamie Thorsen, manager of the foreign exchange division.

″It allows a multinational corporation to track with a toll-free telephone number its world wide exposures on a 24-hour basis,″ she said.

Nachman went to Europe for three weeks in late January and early February, meeting face-to-face for the first time with the people he talks to over the telephone from Chicago.

″They sent me over there to call on banks we do business with and those we want to start to do business with,″ he said.

Despite his constant dealings with foreigners, Nachman said he doesn’t need to know a word of French, German or Italian.

″English is the language of the foreign exchange market. Even in Asia they transact in English,″ he said.

Nachman said he likes the independence of the job but it is also pressure packed. ″It’s not unheard of for me to turn $100 million to $150 million in one night,″ he said.

″The emotional swings are hard to put up with,″ he said. ″When you’re right and things are going well you fell like a million bucks, but when things aren’t, you feel bad.″

Here are some price trends in major commodity markets this week:

-Corn and soybean futures prices rose while oats and wheat prices fell on the Chicago Board of Trade.

Wheat for delivery in May settled at $3.561/2 a bushel, down from $3.571/ 4 the previous Friday; May corn settled at $2.811/4 a bushel, up from $2.80; May oats were $1.673/4 a bushel, down from $1.711/2 ; and May soybeans advanced to $6.051/2 a bushel from $6.04.

-Live cattle and feeder cattle were higher while live hogs and frozen pork bellies fell on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

Live cattle for delivery in April settled at 65.07 cents a pound, compared to 63.05 cents the previous Friday; April feeder cattle were 69.05 cents a pound, up from 68.02 cents; April live hogs were 44.85 cents a pound, down from 45.90 cents; and May frozen pork bellies declined to 71.82 cents a pound from 73.82 cents.

-Crude oil and heating oil prices were higher on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Crude oil for delivery in May settled at $28.29 a barrel, up 5 cents from the previous Friday; and May heating oil was $8.92 a gallon, up from $7.652.

-Gold and silver prices advanced on the New York Commodity Exchange.

Gold for delivery in April settled at $329.60 a troy ounce, up from $316.80 the previous Friday; and May silver climbed to $6.687 a troy ounce from $6.375.

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