17 Dec 2003 22:08 Eurex passes milestone with 1 bln contracts traded CHICAGO, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Eurex, the world's largest futures exchange, claimed a new bragging right on Wednesday by trading its one billionth contract of 2003, the first time any derivatives mart has reached that milestone. As the German-Swiss exchange awaits a ruling from U.S. regulators on whether it can open a U.S. branch in February, volume at "big Eurex" in Frankfurt has risen 25 percent so far from 801 million contracts for the whole of 2002. About 60 percent of Eurex turnover is generated by U.S. and U.K.-based customers, the exchange said, up from about 22 percent in 1998 when Eurex was created by Deutsche Boerse and the Swiss Stock Exchange. "Internationally, our customers and business partners have helped us build the most liquid marketplace in the world," said Eurex chief executive officer Rudolf Ferscha. Eurex's most active contracts are futures on European benchmark fixed income products and equity indexes. The largest U.S. futures exchanges, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade, which are opposing Eurex's proposed move to the U.S. market, have also posted record derivatives volume this year. The CBOT passed its milestone in early October and the CME on Nov 13.