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US inflation data was accidentally released 30 minutes early

(Bloomberg) — The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics inadvertently released Consumer Price Index data 30 minutes early Wednesday, raising new questions about how the agency releases some of the economic information the most sensitive in the world.

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While there is no clear sign that the early release has moved markets, the episode is likely to prompt scrutiny of the release of data with implications for global asset prices and policy. the Federal Reserve.

“Prior to today’s CPI and actual earnings releases, BLS inadvertently loaded a subset of files onto the website approximately 30 minutes before release,” the agency said in a published statement on its website Wednesday evening.

The BLS typically releases its monthly consumer price report at 8:30 a.m. in Washington and is subject to strict protocols intended to prevent its early release. The figures are closely scrutinized by investors and central bank officials, looking for signals about the direction of the economy.

U.S. stock index futures jumped and Treasury yields fell immediately after media outlets including Bloomberg News reported official CPI data at 8:30 a.m., with the S&P 500 index ending the day flat record. There were no sharp movements in the half hour between the first release of the data and the expected release.

“I suspect the market as a whole was not trading at this early release,” said Mingze Wu, a foreign exchange trader at StoneX Financial in Singapore. Still, Wu noted that 30 minutes would be a “very long” time frame for traders to react to an early data release if they became aware of it.

Read more: US inflation falls for first time in six months in relief for Fed

This is not the first time BLS data practices have come under scrutiny. A month ago, Bloomberg News reported that a BLS economist had traded data related to a key indicator of U.S. inflation with major Wall Street firms like JPMorgan Chase & Co. and BlackRock Inc., raising concerns questions about equitable access.

In December 2022, a surge in Treasury bond futures seconds before better-than-expected inflation data was released on the BLS website sparked concerns about a potential leak or hack. The BLS said at the time that it found no evidence that its systems had been compromised or that there had been any suspicious activity around the post.

The agency said it notified the Labor Department’s Office of Management and Budget and the Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General about Wednesday’s incident.

“BLS takes the security of its data seriously and is conducting a thorough investigation into its procedures and controls to ensure that the incident does not recur,” the agency said.

–With help from Ruth Carson and Abhishek Vishnoi.

(Adds details throughout and cites in sixth paragraph.)

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