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Business Wire stops selling direct feeds to HFT firms

21 February 2014  |  4549 views  |  0 Man hands on paper2

Business Wire, the corporate news release distribution company owned by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, is to stop selling its potentially market-moving content directly to high-frequency trading firms.

In a statement, Business Wire CEO Cathy Baron Tamraz says that the firm made the decision, in consultation with Buffett, after a Wall Street Journal article earlier this month on the practice of licencing direct feeds to HFT firms.

Baron Tamraz insists that there was "nothing wrong" with the practice and that the traders had "absolutely no time advantage". However, the practice is being stopped because "we learned that the article may have caused some misperceptions, and that was of deep concern to us".

The news has been welcomed by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who in September promised to go after the sale of early access to market moving information to HFT firms, calling it a "new form of market manipulation".

Says Schneiderman: "High-frequency traders who drain the value out of market-moving information in the milliseconds before it becomes available to other investors erode confidence in our markets and skim from the rest of the investing public, which hurts the entire market."

Last July, under pressure from the attorney general, Thomson Reuters agreed to suspend its practice of providing traders with consumer survey results a couple of seconds before the information was given to other subscribers.

Since then, BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager, has agreed to end its practice of systematically surveying Wall Street analysts for their sentiments on firms it covers in order to obtain advance information.

"I strongly encourage other participants in this industry to follow the leadership of companies like Business Wire and join us in the effort to level the playing field between high-frequency traders and the rest of the investing public," Schneiderman concludes.

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