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CME Posts Higher Earnings

At $2.18 a share, they're 8 cents ahead of forecasts.
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Earnings rose 34% from a year ago in the

Chicago Mercantile Exchange's

(CME) - Get CME Group Inc. Class A Report

fourth quarter, beating estimates thanks to brisk derivatives volume.

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The CME, whose shares are up 10% in January after rising 62% in 2005, earned $76.3 million, or $2.18 a share, in the quarter, compared with $57.8 million, or $1.64 a share, a year ago. Sales rose 24% from a year ago to $233 million.

Analysts were expecting earnings of $2.10 a share on sales of $232.3 million in the latest quarter, according to Thomson First Call.

The CME said fourth-quarter clearing and transaction fees rose 27% from last year to $176 million, reflecting a 33% rise in average daily volume to 4.1 million contracts.

"The fourth-quarter growth was led by a 49% increase in foreign exchange product volume, to a record 375,000 contracts per day. In addition, CME interest rate volume increased 34% compared with the same quarter a year ago, averaging 2.2 million contracts per day; CME E-mini products grew 30%, averaging a record 1.3 million contracts per day; and CME commodity products increased by 20% with average daily volume of 51,000 contracts," the company said.