Position limits delayed to get rule right: CFTC head

NEW YORK Mon Oct 3, 2011 12:10pm EDT

U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Chairman Gary Gensler gestures as he speaks during Reuters Future Face of Finance Summit in Washington, March 2, 2011. REUTERS/Hyungwon Kang

U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Chairman Gary Gensler gestures as he speaks during Reuters Future Face of Finance Summit in Washington, March 2, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Hyungwon Kang

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - The head of the U.S. derivatives regulator, scrambling to get internal support for steps to tackle excessive commodity speculation, said delays are of little concern as long as they yield improved rules.

"We're not trying to do this against a clock. We're trying to do this in a way that gets it right," Gary Gensler, chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, told reporters on the sidelines of a Wholesale Markets Brokers' Association conference in New York.

"So a few more weeks is a small thing for us to be concerned with if we're going to get it thought through in a better way," he said.

Last month, the CFTC delayed by another two weeks to October 18 its meeting to consider a long-awaited rule on position limits, or a cap on the number of contracts traders can hold in commodity markets.

It was the second time a vote had been postponed, and sources familiar with the situation told Reuters it was because Gensler lacks the three votes needed for approval from the CFTC's five commissioners.

The commission has never presented a unified front on position limits, one of the most contentious pieces of the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul for big commodity traders.

In explaining the delay, Gensler said that, of the roughly 50 rules the CFTC is tasked to write, position limits alone received more than half of the public comment letters.

"On each of the features to the rule there are people who want changes sometimes to be more prescriptive, sometimes less prescriptive," he said. "It's a lot to sort through."

(Editing by Dale Hudson)

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