NEWS OF THE WEIRD

No More Peeking at Consumer Confidence Index

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In July, following sustained criticism, Thomson Reuters business information company suspended an advance-release service for the crucial monthly "consumer confidence index" that has been known to signal stock markets to abruptly "buy" (driving up prices) or "sell" (sending them lower). The University of Michigan prepares and distributes the index promptly at 10 a.m. Eastern time on its release date, but Thomson Reuters offers two advance peeks. It pays the school about $1 million a year to see the index at 9:55 a.m., to share with its best customers. The suspended program gave an even earlier tip-off — at 9:54:58 — and high-frequency trading firms paid $6,000 more a month for those two seconds, which allowed their computer robots to execute hundreds of thousands of trades before other professional traders had access to the index.

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