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Thomson Reuters loses 'early release' survey to Bloomberg

Thomson Reuters has lost the exclusive right to issue a closely-watched consumer confidence survey whose early release for a fee to selected clients was investigated by the New York attorney general. It will be replaced from January by Bloomberg, which has said it will discontinue the practice.

The Wall Street Journal said under the previous contract, Thomson Reuters paid more than $1 million a year to be the exclusive distributor of the University of Michigan’s survey results. Reuters charged investors more than $5,000 a month to get the results before they were made more broadly available, it said.

The Journal said under the terms of the new, five-year contract, the survey will be distributed each month by Bloomberg to its clients through a news story about the results. At the same time, the university will release the survey’s findings on its website.

“This agreement ensures that we will be able to maintain the high quality of these surveys for the foreseeable future, and supports our strong commitment to open access to research data,” it quoted James Jackson, the director of the university’s Institute for Social Research, which produces the monthly survey, as saying.

Thomson Reuters suspended the practice of early release after the investigation began.

The Journal said under the practice, which was legal, subscribers who paid a fee would receive a high-speed feed at 9:54:58 am Eastern time. Those who paid for Thomson Reuters regular news services got the report two seconds later. At that point, it would quickly become widely available through other news providers as well. Five minutes later, at 10 am Eastern time, the university posts the numbers on its website.

“By ending early access to critical market-moving survey data information, this deal strikes a major blow in our effort to promote fairness and avoid unfair distortions in the securities markets by cracking down on what I call ‘Insider Trading 2.0,’ ” The Wall Street Journal quoted Eric Schneiderman, the New York attorney general who investigated the practice, as saying. ■

The Wall Street Journal