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CFTC Still Awaiting Trader Data From ICE

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) says it is still waiting on trader position data that it requested from the IntercontinentalExchange (ICE) two months ago.

On Dec. 1 the CFTC issued a special call for individual trader position data. The commission said Monday it has yet to receive the information because, as it understands, "ICE is undertaking various technical adjustments to its systems to produce the requested materials. Commission staff is in regular contact with ICE staff on this matter and is hopeful of receiving the data in the near future."

In November ICE began providing the CFTC with reports relating to certain of its cleared over-the-counter (OTC) natural gas markets in response to a previous special call issued by the CFTC. This was disclosed by ICE during its 3Q2006 earnings conference call. ICE did not respond to a request for comment on the latest, unfilled, CFTC data request but Monday provided on its website an excerpt of comments made during the 3Q earnings call.

"With regard to our U.S. over-the-counter natural gas business we have continued the dialogue with the CFTC to ensure that we are in full compliance with our regulatory obligations," ICE management said during the 3Q earnings call. "ICE had been working closely with the CFTC to provide the commission with information in response to CFTC requests. These reports comprise the equivalent of large trader position reporting for certain OTC natural gas markets into which the CFTC desires additional visibility in order to meet its mandate to regulate the futures market."

ICE further said it believes that the CFTC inquiry does not in any way disadvantage the exchange relative to its competitors.

The CFTC said the separately issued special calls requested that ICE provide clearing member position data and individual trader position data on a daily basis. The first special call, issued Sept. 28, came 10 days after it came to light that hedge fund Amaranth had suffered heavy losses in the gas futures market (see Daily GPI, Sept. 19, 2006).

The CFTC said the special calls were issued primarily to assist the commission in its surveillance of Nymex natural gas contracts. "The special calls were not issued as part of an investigation of any particular market participant or trading activity on either ICE or Nymex [or] in order to conduct regular market surveillance of ICE contracts themselves," the CFTC said in its statement.

Compliance with the special calls is mandatory "until further notice." The CFTC said that ICE position data will not be incorporated into its Commitments of Traders Report.

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