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TICKER - Feeds On Energy Futures

February marked something of a global coming-out party for the New York Mercantile Exchange.

February marked something of a global coming-out party for the New York Mercantile Exchange. The new Dubai Mercantile Exchange, in which Nymex owns a 50 percent stake (the other half belongs to Dubai's crown prince), announced that it would launch in May with the first energy futures contract traded in the Middle East. Closer to home, Nymex bought 10 percent of Canada's Montreal Exchange for roughly $70 million and, with the Canadian bourse, is developing an energy futures exchange based in Calgary, slated to open by May. "It's important to place ourselves strategically around the world," says Nymex chairman Richard Schaeffer, who has seen Nymex's shares skyrocket since its November IPO, giving the bourse a market valuation of $11 billion. Buying into Montreal, a futures and options exchange that draws half its activity from outside Canada, also links Nymex to the Boston Options Exchange, in which Montreal owns a 31 percent stake. But Schaeffer and Nymex CEO Jim Newsome aren't done shopping; they're hunting for investments in other exchanges. They plan to expand beyond Nymex's energy and metals focus -- it just launched catastrophe risk futures, for example. Says Schaeffer, "Everything is open."