Statement of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission
Issued: January 28, 2004


Washington, D.C. - The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) announced today that it is investigating two matters of broad public interest. The first investigation, which began in late December 2003, is looking at the possibility that certain commodity traders had advance knowledge of an announcement last month that "mad cow" disease had been found in a cattle herd in the northwestern U.S. A CFTC spokesman says the investigation seeks to determine whether news of the announcement was leaked in advance from government or other sources.

The second investigation, which commenced in early December 2003, is reviewing price spikes that occurred in natural gas markets in late 2003 to determine whether they were sparked by manipulative activity on the part of market participants. The CFTC spokesman said that the natural gas investigation is probing why natural gas futures contracts more than doubled in price within a short period starting in November 2003. The investigation is focusing on whether possible manipulative activity caused markets to skyrocket despite the absence of overt fundamental market triggers.

In both investigations, attorneys in the Enforcement Division of the CFTC are interviewing witnesses, reviewing documents and examining trading patterns.

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Media Contact:
Alan Sobba, Director
CFTC Office of External Affairs
(202) 418-5034