NEW YORK -- Federal regulators are planning their first major step to rein in oil speculators. Whether it's enough to control future spikes in energy prices remains to be seen. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission on Thursday will consider setting trade limits on the New York Mercantile Exchange to keep fund managers and other "speculative" investors from wielding too much influence in the market. Speculators - investors who make money by trading oil contracts - have flooded the Nymex in recent years. They mostly bet that oil will get more expensive, leading many to believe that their presence in the market jacks up prices. The limits proposed by the CFTC would cap how many contracts traders could buy. Violators likely would be told to get rid of especially large positions. The CFTC also has the power to issue fines and revoke trading privileges on the exchange. Speculators got most of the blame when crude soared above $147 a barrel in 2008. But economists who studied commission data point out that exchange-traded funds and other investors have historically moved in the opposite direction of the market, selling when prices rise and buying contracts when prices fall. Real-Time Quotes 01/14/2010 2:42PM ET BATS Real-Time Market Data by Xignite CFTC Commissioner Bart Chilton said the commission should start slowly, keeping caps high enough that most exchange-traded funds and other speculative investments wouldn't immediately feel pressure to change their trading practices.