COMMODITIES: Chips on a New Block

Chips on a New Block

What do computer memory chips, soybeans and pork bellies have in common? All are considered commodities, since their prices float freely, based on supply and demand. With that in mind, the Pacific Stock Exchange of San Francisco announced plans last week to create a futures market for DRAM (dynamic random- access memory) chips, the tiny silicon storage units found in products ranging from computers to toasters. Prices in the $6 billion DRAM market have seesawed sharply over the past few years, swinging from $3 to $30 a chip, depending on type and availability.

A chip futures market would allow manufacturers to...

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