* Senate panel cancels Oct. 6 hearing with CFTC's Gensler
* Delay comes as CFTC to vote Oct. 18 on position limits
* Hearing to be rescheduled for late Oct, early Nov -Levin (Adds quotes, background on position limits)
By Christopher Doering
WASHINGTON, Oct. 4 (Reuters) - A U.S. Senate watchdog has canceled an Oct. 6 hearing focused on excessive speculation after the futures regulator said it would finalize new trading curbs later this month, the head of the panel told reporters on Tuesday.
The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission has set "a fixed date" of Oct. 18 to vote on a measure that would limit the number of contracts any one speculative trader could hold in commodity markets, said Senator Carl Levin, head of the Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.
"We think it's better (our hearing) come after their vote," said Levin. "We're trying to get them to vote, that's our goal, but we're not using a hearing to try to influence the substance of their decision."
Gary Gensler, the chairman of the CFTC, has been criticized by lawmakers concerned the agency is not moving fast enough to take steps that could moderate volatile oil and gasoline prices blamed for slowing the country's economic recovery.
Gensler had been expected to testify on Thursday at the hearing, which also was going to address the agency's compliance with the Dodd-Frank Act.
The CFTC already has postponed two meetings where a vote on position limits was scheduled, with the most recent coming because it lacked the three votes needed for approval. [nS1E78R1NS]
"If they continue to delay it then we'll probably have a hearing anyway just to put some more pressure on them to get that vote done," said Levin, who said his hearing would likely be rescheduled for late October or early November.
"We want them to act according to the law, which is that they address the issue of speculation and that they set some position limits," he said.
Efforts to curb excessive speculation are part of the CFTC's efforts to enact sweeping new reforms in the Dodd-Frank financial reform overhaul of 2010 that required the agency to regulate the $600 trillion over-the-counter derivatives market.
The law required the CFTC to have position limits in place by mid-January.
The futures regulator, which must finalize about 50 new rules under the Dodd-Frank law, has struggled to keep up with the rule-making process.
Several key rules including capital and margin requirements will be pushed into the first quarter of 2012, putting the agency well behind a July 2011 deadline established by Congress for many of the rules. [nN1E7870RB] (Editing by David Gregorio and Sofina Mirza-Reid)