NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- In a throwback to a bygone era when financial markets were flush with human traders and tempers often ran high, an old-fashioned fight broke out Tuesday on the floor of the New York Mercantile Exchange, the largest physical commodity futures exchange in the world.
People who work on the floor of the Merc in lower Manhattan told TheStreet that two traders in the so-called 'open outcry pits,' where investors sell futures and options of precious metals, crude oil and natural gas, engaged in what might be euphemistically called a physical confrontation but which a half-dozen people interviewed described as including shoving or throwing punches.
The altercation became quite heated, according to four traders, one of whom said someone's shirt was ripped during the fracas. Two other traders called it a "fist fight." The two men were subsequently escorted from the building by security, said two security guards.
A source said that one trader walked-up to another trader to tell him to get out of "his spot" in the pits. When the "spot" was not vacated, the first trader shoved the other man, another trader said.
"We're not in the schoolyard and you can't push anybody, and that's it," he said. "Once you put your hands on somebody then that's like the real no-no, so that's what happened."
The two security guards confirmed that a fight occurred and that the two traders were escorted off the floor. Damon Leavell, a spokesman for the CME Group, which runs the NYMEX, would not comment on whether a fight took place or what fines would be levied in the case of such an incident.