UPDATE 1-New York to probe high-frequency trading - Bloomberg

Tue Mar 18, 2014 6:40am EDT

March 18 (Reuters) - New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is investigating whether U.S. stock exchanges and alternative trading venues provide improper advantages to high-frequency traders, Bloomberg reported, citing a person with direct knowledge of the matter.

Schneiderman's office is examining the sale of products and services that offer faster access to data and richer information on trades than what is typically available to the public, the report said. ()

The attorney general's staff has discussed his concerns with executives of the Nasdaq and IntercontinetalExchange Group Inc's New York Stock Exchange and requested more information, the report said.

The stock exchanges are the latest parties to come under scrutiny as part of Schneiderman's campaign to ensure a level playing field for all investors.

In January, BlackRock Inc, the world's largest asset manager, agreed to end its analyst survey program worldwide as part of an agreement with the Attorney General's office.

After the agreement with BlackRock, Schneiderman had said his office would continue the crackdown.

High-frequency traders use computer algorithms to generate numerous, lightning-speed automatic trades that make money from tiny price differences in the market.

A favored tool of hedge funds and other institutional traders, high-frequency trading has been in regulators' sights now for years, but experts have remained divided on whether the practice helps or harms markets.

Reuters reported last month that Berkshire Hathaway Inc's Business Wire would no longer sell potentially market-moving press releases directly to high frequency-trading companies, after months of discussion with the Attorney General's office.

ICE spokeswoman Brookly McLaughlin declined to comment on the Bloomberg report.

Schneiderman's office and Nasdaq could not be reached for comment outside regular U.S. business hours.

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