The mainland's three commodity futures exchanges have raised their minimum margin requirements to curb speculation, as part of Beijing's efforts to ease inflationary pressure. The Dalian and Zhengzhou exchanges said yesterday they would increase margins to 10 per cent from as low as 5 per cent, after the market closes on Monday. The two bourses followed in the footsteps of the Shanghai Futures Exchange, which announced on Thursday it was raising the percentage of cash a trader must deposit with brokerages. From next week, minimum margin requirements on nearly all commodities will be set at 10 per cent on the mainland. At the Shanghai exchange, the minimum deposits for steel-reinforcing bars and zinc are set at 12 per cent and the margin on rubber is 13 per cent. 'The decision will largely dent the speculative mood,' Yongan Futures Brokerage analyst Huang Lei said. 'A large number of investors are expected to quit the commodity exchanges soon.' The margins would not return to normal levels any time soon, analysts added The mainland normally increases margins on commodities traded in the three exchanges during national holidays to avoid volatility, and the requirements are restored to original levels after the holidays. Beijing is trying to contain inflation as a torrent of hot money flows into the system, driving up commodity and asset prices. The National Development and Reform Commission has vowed to weed out illegal practices and market manipulation to control prices. On the futures market, domestic speculative funds are a major source of liquidity in addition to the hot money from overseas as many mainland investors turn to this market while the going is good. Huang predicted that a higher margin requirement would cause a multibillion-yuan capital outflow, as speculative funds would lose interest in the commodities market. The exchanges suspended trading fee discounts this week, a move aimed at increasing traders' costs and discouraging speculative trades. All the three exchanges also said they would take further steps to curb irregular trading and ensure the smooth running of the market. According to the Futures Industry Association, the trading volume of sugar more than tripled from a year ago in Zhengzhou, while the value of rubber futures traded in Shanghai has more than doubled. The daily price cap on the commodities traded on the three exchanges is set to be raised to 6 per cent from the current 5 per cent.