(Kitco News) - Margins for Comex copper futures for the February 2012 contract and deferred months were hiked 15% by the CME Group, which will go into effect after the close of business Thursday, the exchange said Wednesday.

The new initial margin, or performance bond, is $7,763 per contract, up from $6,750 per contract for speculators and the new maintenance level is $5,750 per contract, up from $5,000.

For hedgers, the new initial margin and maintenance level is $5,750 per contract, up from $5,000.

The CME Group will raise margins based on contract volatility.

By Debbie Carlson of Kitco News dcarlson@kitco.co;

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