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US govt changes economic data access rules to slow down algo traders

US govt changes economic data access rules to slow down algo traders

The US government is tightening up rules that give media outlets early access to economic data over concerns that the current setup is giving high speed algorithmic traders a competitive advantage.

Currently, to help them file stories quickly and accurately, accredited news organisations get market sensitive government economic data, such as employment numbers and the Consumer Price index, 30 minutes before official release in "lock-up" rooms.

However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Employment and Training Administration, and the Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the Department of Labor have all raised security concerns over the practice.

Says the OIG: "Several news organisations that participate in the DOL press lock-up are able to profit from their presence in the lock-up by selling, to traders, high speed data feeds of economic data formatted for computerised algorithmic trading.

"Because these news organisations have pre-release access, they are able to pre-load the data … allowing their clients to get this information faster than the general public which has to wait to download the data after it gets posted to the Department of Labor websites."

In response, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has decided that, from 1 March, credentialed press will still get access to lock-up rooms 30 minutes before releases but will no longer be able to use electronic devices in these rooms.

Reporters will be restricted to pen and paper until they leave the room as the embargo lifts and they can file their stories.

"These updated procedures will strengthen the security of our data and offer the general public equitable and timely access," says Bureau of Labor Statistics commissioner William Beach.

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