President-elect Barack Obama has chosen three veteran financial regulators to serve the country as it faces unrelenting turmoil in financial markets and the broader economy.

Democratic officials say Obama wants Gary Gensler to head the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and Daniel Tarullo for a Federal Reserve seat.

Obama plans to announce the picks at a news conference Thursday, along with Mary Schapiro to chair the Securities and Exchange Commission. That agency faces growing criticism for its failure to protect investors and detect trouble brewing on Wall Street. Schapiro served as an SEC commissioner in Republican and Democratic administrations.

Gensler was a former Treasury official in the Clinton administration He also worked on Capitol Hill as a senior advisory to former Democratic Sen. Paul Sarbanes of Maryland. Sarbanes authored legislation to increase oversight of the accounting industry and reform corporate governance.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission is an independent agency created by Congress to regulate trading in the commodity futures and option markets.

Tarullo is a Georgetown Law professor who also worked for President Clinton, and is leading Obama's transition team at the Treasury Department. He will fill an open seat on the Federal Reserve board in Washington.

The selection of Tarullo _ which is subject to approval by the Senate _ allows Obama to begin to put his imprint on the Federal Reserve. All the present board members, including chairman Ben Bernanke, were hand picked by President George W. Bush.

Tarullo would fill one of two vacant seats on the seven-member board. A third seat _ now held by Fed governor Randall Kroszner _ also will become available.

As a member of the Fed board, Tarullo would have an important voice in deciding crucial policy to help jolt the economy back to life. He would vote on decisions about interest rates as well as ways to help break through the credit clog _ such as programs to provide lending to banks or buy debt from companies. He would also have a hand in shaping new regulations to prevent a repeat of the current economic and financial crises.

Schapiro has spent her career in the securities field and has a bipartisan political pedigree.

She is currently the head of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, which describes itself on its Web site as the largest non-governmental regulator for securities firms doing business with the U.S. public.

President Ronald Reagan named her commissioner of the SEC. She was reappointed by President George H.W. Bush, and then named acting chair by President Bill Clinton.

The SEC stands at what could be one of the most difficult times in its history, buffeted by criticism for failing to detect signs that major Wall Street banks were in trouble before the financial crisis erupted and for lax oversight and enforcement in other areas.

As the scandal involving disgraced money manager Bernard Madoff continues to stun the financial world, revelations have surfaced that staff at the SEC repeatedly failed over the course of a decade to fully investigate credible allegations against him. SEC Chairman Christopher Cox on Tuesday ordered the agency's inspector general to investigate what went wrong.

The announcements came on Obama's fourth straight day of appearances to unveil top nominations. Transition officials say they expect more nominations this week before Obama leaves on a holiday vacation to his native Hawaii.

Obama also intends to nominate Republican Rep. Ray LaHood of Illinois as transportation secretary, Democratic officials said. Obama has yet to announce choices for the Labor Department, senior intelligence positions or the Office of U.S. Trade Representative. Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., had been penciled in as trade representative, but he announced Tuesday that he intends to remain in the House.

In addition, numerous sub-Cabinet posts remain unfilled. Dr. Gail Russeau, a Chicago neurosurgeon, is a leading contender to become surgeon general, officials said.