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UPDATE 1-U.S. regulator says vote on Volcker rule nearing

Douwe Miedema
Wednesday, 30 Oct 2013 | 2:40 PM ET

(Adds quotes from Gensler)

WASHINGTON, Oct 30 (Reuters) - U.S. regulators hope to vote in December on a rule that would bar banks from gambling with their own money, the nation's top derivatives regulator said on Wednesday, in a sign that the acrimonious process of writing the Volcker rule is drawing to an end.

The rule, which was devised by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker and is part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law, will prohibit Wall Street banks from risky trades in financial markets using their own capital, known as proprietary trading.

The six agencies working on the rule still have not agreed on a final text of more than 1,000 pages, said Gary Gensler, chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which regulates derivatives, though he indicated a consensus was nearing.

"I am hopeful to try to schedule a public Commission meeting in the second week of December or third week of December," Gensler said, speaking at an unrelated public meeting of the agency.

Gensler was responding to a request from fellow Commissioner Scott O'Malia, who was urging him to disseminate the text in time for the meeting, to give the CFTC enough time to read the law and comment on it.

"I don't have a document to send at this point in time but if I do in the next couple of days I will share it," Gensler also said in response to O'Malia.

Regulators have said they hope to finish the rule by the end of the year. Gensler is the first person directly involved in the process to come out and set a tentative date for a decision.

The main problem with rule, which was first proposed in October 2011, was how to distinguish proprietary trading from activities that are beneficial to clients but that look very similar from the outside, Gensler said.

Banks often use their money to support client trading -- an activity known as market making -- and they can also take on large market positions to protect or "hedge" legitimate risk in other parts of their business.

"The Volcker provisions of law are some of the most challenging, prohibit proprietary trading ... but at the same time permit market making, hedging, underwriting et cetera," Gensler told journalists after the meeting.

"I think this can get done," he also said, adding that there were still "lots of very constructive discussions" on the issue between the regulators.

(Reporting by Douwe Miedema; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Leslie Adler)