The State Council issued a new set of rules governing the futures market over the weekend, paving the way for the introduction of stock index futures and other financial derivatives. Dow Jones, citing state media, reported that under the new rules – which come into effect April 15 – firms can apply to trade financial futures and options related to securities, interest rates, foreign exchange rates and index-related products. The existing rules only apply to commodities futures. Futures trading licenses will only be issued to companies with at least US$3.9 million in registered capital. Foreign firms will also be allowed to participate under similar conditions after the central bank announced Friday that the futures market would be opened to overseas players. Exchange-traded financial derivatives were banned in China in 1995 following a market meltdown.