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The Associated Press June 29, 2010, 12:27PM ET

CME Group spends $450,000 to lobby gov't in 1Q

Exchange operator CME Group Inc. spent $450,000 lobbying the government during the first quarter on issues tied to reforming derivatives regulation, according to a Congressional lobbying disclosure filing.

That's 33 percent less than the $670,000 spent the same quarter last year and down from the $500,000 that CME spent in the 2009 fourth quarter.

Chicago-based CME Group operates trading platforms for derivatives such as energy and commodity futures and foreign exchange contracts. CME Group lobbied both houses of Congress and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission during the first quarter. It discussed issues tied to potential regulatory reform of the derivatives market as well as taxes on investment transactions.

Companies had feared that the financial regulation bill would sharply curtail bank profits by limiting financial companies' ability to trade in derivatives. Companies and investors often use derivatives to hedge against losses. But some derivatives are purely speculative investments, and some of these derivatives have been blamed for contributing heavily to the collapse of the housing market and the 2008 financial crisis.

While the legislation hammered out last week in Congress does impose new rules on the complex investments, it isn't as strict as investors feared. It calls for most derivatives to be traded on regulated exchanges. Banks can still trade derivatives related to interest rates, foreign exchanges, gold and silver, investments that have contributed to their big profits.

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