Financial Times; Jul 02, 2002 Trading in single stock futures in the US is expected to move a step closer to reality today, when one of two key regulators studying the instruments is expected to approve their use. The development will be welcomed by futures exchanges in Europe and the US as a way of helping them at a time when demand for risk-management and hedging products is growing fast. Single stock futures - which allow traders to buy and sell futures on specific stocks - have been banned in the US for the past 20 years.But two years ago, Congress gave the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission clearance to come up with a regulatory framework that would allow them to be reintroduced. A CFTC official said the agency had now cleared two remaining issues which trading margins would be allowed and issues related to consumer protection - and that the SEC was expected to follow with its approvalshortly. "We've both had a lot of distractions the last few months, so hopefully they [the SEC] will be able to act with dispatch on this so that the activity can commence," said one CFTC official. A handful of exchanges around the world have been approved to trade single stock futures, although there is some concern in the industry over whether sufficient demand exists for the products to justify such numbers. OneChicago, a joint venture between Chicago's three futures and options exchanges, is close to finalising the technical platform on which its single stock futures will trade. Officials say they could go "live" with single stock futures trading in a matter of weeks once SEC approval is granted. At launch, OneChicago will offer 75-80 contracts on US listed stocks such as IBM and Cisco, as well as contracts on European shares listed as American Depository Receipts in the US. However it is expected to face stiff competition from a similar joint venture between Nasdaq and Liffe, the London-based exchange.