This week, the Federal Trade Commission opened a formal investigation into the alleged manipulation of oil prices. The FTC's investigation was prompted by a similar investigation by European regulators into the alleged manipulation of Platts' oil benchmark. These investigations highlight the growing scrutiny both US and international regulators are placing on trading activities in the energy markets. Hedge funds and others in the financial services industry increasingly are trading in global energy markets. These trading activities form the basis of certain commodity price benchmarks, such as Platts' oil benchmark. Given the importance of the oil benchmark in setting global price indexes, other US federal regulators, such as the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, are paying close attention to activities that potentially impact oil prices and related futures, swaps, and other derivatives.
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