Some leading financial media companies may have used high-speed transmission systems to access economic data a fraction of a second ahead of the official release, giving some investors a trading advantage.
Especially in light of the high-speed trading debacles of 2012, investigators are continually focused on access to information while that information is still private.
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An investigation into trading patterns revealed the early releases to some traders but it is yet to be determined if receiving the information a slice of a second early actually offered enough time to make a profitable trade based on private information.
No charges have been filed because none of the actions could be linked to specific media companies.
Investigators are continually concerned about the way federal economic information is handled.
A goodly portion of the FBI’s attention is consistently on the Commerce, Labor, and Treasury departments.
Government authorities have created rules around the release of data to ensure a level playing field for traders. Some reporters simply write articles about the data; others try to get the information to clients in an instant from its release.
During the so-called embargo or lockup period, reporters do their work so that it will be ready to release as soon as the lockup period ends.
The FBI and the SEC examined data that ultimately signified a flaw in Bloomberg’s computer system that allowed reporters to access data before the lockup period is over.
Smaller media outlets may also have had access to the data and could have served as extensions of trading firms.
Media companies have pushed back against the Labor Department's efforts to restrict their source of information to the DoL's computers.
In trying to resolve the issue, the media and the DoL reached a compromise that allows reporters to continue using their own computers but that gives the DoL access
as well as supervision of their maintenance.