UPDATE 1-EU clearing houses resilient but gaps remain for commodities, watchdog says

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By Huw Jones

LONDON, July 5 (Reuters) - Clearing houses in the European Union have shown they can withstand extreme shocks, including the impact of Russia's invasion of Ukraine on commodities markets, the bloc's securities watchdog said on Tuesday.

Clearing houses are the essential plumbing of financial markets, ensuring that securities or derivatives trades are completed, even if one side of a transaction goes bust.

A stress test of 15 clearing houses showed they can meet their basic requirement of being able to continue operating even after their two biggest members go bust, the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) said in a statement.

Gaps, however, were identified between the necessary and available buffers for certain risks at some clearing houses, particularly in commodity derivatives markets, ESMA said in its fourth stress test of the sector.

"Keeping in mind the limitations of the exercise, this could indicate an insufficient coverage of concentration risk," ESMA said. "Commodity derivatives and emission allowances show overall lower concentration add-ons."

Clearing houses typically require add-ons in cash or margin calls to be posted against a position to mitigate any concentrated risks when there are big price moves.

The test including two clearers based in London - LCH and ICE Clear - which serve customers in the European Union.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February triggered huge price moves in commodity markets, raising concerns among regulators about whether the sector was sufficiently regulated.

Trades in nickel cleared by London's LME Clear hit a record high and one spike in prices prompted the metals exchange to temporarily suspend trading and nearly double its default fund.

LME Clear was not part of the EU stress test.

The stress scenario used by ESMA was tougher or comparable in severity for most asset classes, apart for some commodities, to the stresses seen in the early days of the Ukraine war, ESMA said.

"Finally, with respect to operational resilience, a series of areas and entities have been identified where further supervisory attention should be put in order to assess discrepancies in the measured levels of operational risk," ESMA said. (Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by David Clarke)

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