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Senate panel to hold hearing on high-frequency trading

By Douwe Miedema

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Senate panel will hold a hearing next week on high-frequency trading and other forms of automated trading in futures markets to see how regulators can keep derivatives markets safe, a spokesman said on Tuesday.

Computer-driven trading became a hot topic again after the launch of the book "Flash Boys" by best-selling author Michael Lewis, who argues that equity markets are rigged in favor of high-frequency traders.

Futures markets, regulated by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, are also a common hunting ground for speed traders, and the agency is probing them to see if they are breaching the CFTC's rules.

The Senate Agriculture Committee, which oversees the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, said it would call the meeting on May 13 and would disclose a list of witnesses at a later stage.

The panel has just approved Timothy Massad - a former senior Treasury official - as the CFTC's new chairman, as well as two other new members of the five-strong commission. The full Senate has yet to approve the three nominees.

At the moment, the CFTC is split between its Acting Chairman Mark Wetjen, a Democrat, and its only other member, Republican Commissioner Scott O'Malia.

(Reporting by Douwe Miedema; Editing by Nick Zieminski)