Conference Board fears diversion of economic data

WASHINGTON — The Conference Board will no longer provide its economic reports in advance to news organizations because it suspects the data are being diverted early to computer-driven trading systems, which could allow some parties to profit unfairly.

The private research group has long provided its monthly data to reporters 30 minutes before the information is publicly released. That has allowed journalists to get a jump on preparing news reports.

Starting Tuesday, the data will be released to everyone simultaneously.


‘‘We are taking this action because of indications that our embargoed data is being diverted, intentionally or otherwise, to computer systems that create an unlevel playing field for market participants,’’ the Conference Board said.

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The New York-based organization issues reports on consumer confidence and other economic indicators that can affect financial markets.

The Conference Board said one news organization reported it had inadvertently breached the embargo by fractions of a second by channeling the data to a trading system’s computer prematurely. The board did not name the news organization.

There was no evidence of improper trading on the board’s data ahead of its public release, but the board wanted to erase any public doubts.

Modern stock trading is dominated by automated computer systems that make trades in tiny fractions of a second. High-speed traders can profit from receiving data even milliseconds before its public release.