WASHINGTON — William J. Rainer plans to step aside as chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission on Jan. 19.

Mr. Rainer sent his resignation letter on Wednesday to President Clinton, who had tapped him for the job in August 1999.

Though Mr. Rainer’s tenure was short, the former Wall Street bond trader oversaw the agency at a critical time. He succeeded Brooksley Born, who had upset fellow regulators and financial services executives with a proposal to regulate swaps contracts.

The agency withdrew that plan under Mr. Rainer, who was involved in negotiations on legislation to keep nonbank regulators from overseeing the swaps business. The President signed that bill on Thursday.

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