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February 27, 2012

Judge weighs whether to let regulators rein in oil speculators

A federal judge on Monday refused to halt efforts by a key regulator to limit excessive speculation in the trading of oil contracts – which is driving up oil and gasoline prices – but hinted that he might soon rule in favor of Wall Street and let speculation go unchecked.

Robert Wilkins, a judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, declined a request for a preliminary injunction to halt the Commodity Futures Trading Commission from implementing a congressional mandate to limit how many oil contracts any single financial speculator or company can control.

But Wilkins told both the CFTC and lawyers for the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association and the International Swap and Derivatives Association that he expected to make a ruling soon on whether to hear the case. His line of questioning left both sides with the impression that he was concerned about how the regulatory agency has proceeded.

Dennis Kelleher, president of the advocacy group Better Markets, sat through the court hearing and emerged concerned that the financial sector was chipping away at the intention of Congress.

“This is all about the industry trying to protect large, dark (unregulated) markets,” he said, referring to the so-called over-the-counter markets, which are much larger than the regulated futures markets. Under Dodd-Frank they are slated for first-ever CFTC regulation.


Read full McClatchy article here.

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