July 8, 2009

U.S. moves to limit oil speculators

U.S. financial regulators say they are moving to rein in the activities of oil speculators, whom they say are partly to blame for wild price swings.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission said Tuesday it is considering imposing volume limits on energy futures trading investors who have purely financial motives, representing a major change by the Obama administration away from the hands-off policies of the preceding Bush White House, The New York Times reported.

The newspaper said the CFTC has already put in place tougher information requirements meant to identify the role played by hedge funds and traders who swap oil futures contracts outside of regulated exchanges.

My firm belief is that we must aggressively use all existing authorities to ensure market integrity, Gary Gensler, chairman of the commission, said in a statement. The Times said Gensler indicated the CFTC would also consider imposing federal speculative limits on futures contracts for energy products.

Gensler's proposals are likely to draw fierce opposition from big banks and Wall Street firms that manage big investments in the oil futures markets, the Times said.