"Federal regulators said on Thursday that they would impose hard limits on energy futures contracts held by commodity traders, part of a move to curb excessive speculation and possibly avoid a repeat of the 2008 run-up in oil prices.
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the top futures market regulator, said the limits would be similar to those governing agricultural markets and would apply to futures contracts for crude oil, natural gas, heating oil and gasoline. The rules are intended to prevent a few traders from distorting prices by dominating a single market, the agency said.
The measure is ostensibly aimed at reducing speculation in the energy markets, which some analysts suggested was to blame for driving oil futures well above $100 a barrel in 2008. It restores position limits that existed before 2001, when they were eliminated in a wide-ranging deregulation of financial markets."