Federal regulators in the US are hearing from consumers, businesses, traders and financial firms before making a decision on imposing limits on speculative trading of energy futures contracts.

If limits are imposed it would mark a major shift for the US government, writes the Associated Press.

The futures contracts are supposed to lessen price volatility but speculators use them to bet on market prices.

However, critics say this magnifies price swings.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission is currently holding the first in a series of hearings on the subject.