The Federal Reserve says it is contacting news organizations to discuss the rules surrounding lock up procedures and the release of market moving information from the Federal Reserve's headquarters in Washington.
But the leading expert on millisecond level trading says he is focusing his attention on a certain type of news organization – those that offer so-called "low latency" services to feed market moving data at high speeds directly into computerized trading systems.
Eric Hunsader, founder of the market analysis firm Nanex, says that's because he saw simultaneous reactions to the Fed's announcement last week in trading in New York and Chicago. That would be theoretically impossible if the information was released from the Fed's headquarters in Washington. In theory, the trading reaction should have begun in New York several milliseconds before it began in Chicago, because information takes several more milliseconds to travel the longer distance.
"The very first thought I had when I looked at this closely was this is a low latency service," Hunsader said. "We have just very recently looked closely at some of these low latency releases and seen that they are indeed at the same exact millisecond. We have immediate history behind it."
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Working off of a list provided by the Fed of news organizations participating in last week's lock up, CNBC contacted each of the news organizations that offer low latency data services to ask whether they transmitted any data out of the Fed's lockup room. A key question is whether or not any organization transmitted information out of the lockup room and into its own computer system before 2 p.m. If that was done, the data could have been moved to computer servers near Chicago before 2 p.m. and publicly released the information from there at precisely 2 p.m. – enabling subscribers of that data service to get the information milliseconds before others in Chicago relying on transmissions from the Federal Reserve in Washington to arrive.
It is not clear whether that would violate the Fed's rules. The Federal Reserve declined to tell CNBC whether or not it would be a violation of their rules to transmit information out of the lockup room before 2 p.m., if that information was pre-loaded into servers in Chicago for release at 2 p.m.
A spokesperson for Dow Jones declined to say whether or not the organization transmitted data out of the lock up room before 2 pm., instead emailed a statement to CNBC saying, "We will continue to work with the Fed cooperatively to report in full accordance with their desires."
Similarly, a Thomson Reuters spokesperson emailed a statement to CNBC saying, "We distributed the news per the Fed's embargo process. We did not release prior to the 2pm embargo." The spokesperson also declined to answer questions about whether the organization transmitted information out of the lock up room before 2 p.m.
Two other organizations said that they did not transmit data outside the lockup room before the deadline. A spokesperson from Bloomberg News said that organization did not transmit information before 2 p.m. And Michael Scarchilli, Editor-in-Chief of the publication The Bond Buyer, also said his organization did not transmit information before the deadline.