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Schneiderman: Marketwired To Stop Selling Info To High-Frequency Traders

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (credit: Getty Images)

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (credit: Getty Images)

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ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) – New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says Marketwired has agreed to stop selling to high-frequency traders direct feeds of the information it distributes for clients.

He said that will end unfair advantages for those traders and follows a similar agreement last month by Business Wire, a Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary.

In a news release, Schneiderman applauded the move by Toronto-based Marketwired.

“My office is committed to ensuring a fair, stable, and transparent market,” he said. “High-frequency traders who drain the value out of market-moving information in the milliseconds before it becomes widely available to other investors erode confidence in our markets and skim from the rest of the investing public, which hurts the entire market. This is another important step forward in bringing an end to Insider Trading 2.0.

Marketwired said it made the decision prior to any talks with Schneiderman and “will now eliminate any perceived advantages gained through technology by certain customers.”

On Tuesday, Schneiderman announced he has begun investigating split-second stock trading by some high-frequency traders and called on the exchanges to end the practice. He said federal and other state regulators should join in structural reforms.

“Rather than curbing the worst threats posed by high-frequency traders, our markets are becoming too focused on catering to them,” Schneiderman said during a symposium at New York Law School.

According to the attorney general’s office, advantages include extra computer network bandwidth, ultra-fast connection cables and special high-speed switches to computer servers. Some traders are allowed to place their computer servers within trading venues. The millisecond timing advantages let those traders make “rapid and often risk-free trades before the rest of the market can catch up.”

New York’s attorney general has authority to investigate and prosecute securities fraud under the Martin Act, which the office has used to crack down on widespread institutional issues like research analyst bias. That was a signature case involving other regulators and led by then-Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.

The marketplace has changed radically with technology. State officials say that In the 1960s, people held their stocks for an average of five years, and that has dropped sharply to less than five days, according to one estimate. They also note studies indicating high-frequency traders accounting for about 50 percent of U.S. equity trading volume in 2012.

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