WASHINGTON --Thomson Reuters Corp. said Monday it would suspend the early access it sells to some clients of its twice-monthly consumer confidence index.
The company, which conducts the widely watched Survey of Consumers with the University of Michigan, said it made the change at the request of New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman.
His office has been investigating the practice of allowing some high-speed traders to pay to receive the data two seconds before other paying clients. Thomson Reuters said it was cooperating with the probe.
The consumer confidence data can move financial markets, and Scheiderman's office said "that two-second advantage is more than enough time for these traders to take unfair advantage of their early access to this information as they execute enormous volumes of trades in the blink of an eye."
"The securities markets should be a level playing field for all investors and the early release of market-moving survey data undermines fair play in the markets," Schneiderman said Monday.
Thomson Reuters will continue to release the data at 9:55 a.m. to all paying clients, five minutes before the 10 a.m. public release.
But effective with Friday's preliminary read on July consumer confidence, the company will stop the practice of allowing some clients to receive the data at 9:54:58 while Schneiderman's office "conducts a review of this matter," Thomson Reuters said.
The company did not commit to a permanent change and said it has the right to exclusively distribute private information to paying customers.
"Thomson Reuters strongly believes that news and information companies can legally distribute non-governmental data and exclusive news through services provided to fee-paying subscribers," the company said in a written statement.
"It is widely understood that news and information companies compete for exclusive news and differentiated content to help their customers make better informed trading and investment decisions," the statement said.