US Inflation Data Was Accidentally Released 30 Minutes Early

(Bloomberg) — The US Bureau of Labor Statistics inadvertently published Consumer Price Index data 30 minutes early on Wednesday, raising fresh questions about how the agency releases some of the world’s most sensitive economic information.

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While there were no obvious signs that the early publication moved markets, the episode is likely to prompt a close look at the dissemination of data that has implications for global asset prices and Federal Reserve policy.

“In advance of today’s CPI and Real Earnings releases, BLS inadvertently loaded a subset of files to the website approximately 30 minutes prior to the release,” the agency said in a statement posted on its website Wednesday evening.

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

US stock-index futures jumped and Treasury yields fell immediately after media outlets including Bloomberg News reported the official CPI data at 8:30 a.m., with the S&P 500 Index ending the day at an all-time high. There were no sharp movements in the half-hour stretch between the early data release and the scheduled one.

“I suspect the market at large wasn’t trading on this early release,” said Mingze Wu, a currency trader at StoneX Financial in Singapore. Still, Wu noted that 30 minutes would be a “very long” time for traders to react to an early data release if they become aware of it.

Read More: US Inflation Ebbs for First Time in Six Months in Relief for Fed

This isn’t the first time BLS data practices have come under scrutiny. A month ago, Bloomberg News reported that an economist from the BLS corresponded on data related to a key US inflation gauge with major Wall Street firms like JPMorgan Chase & Co. and BlackRock Inc., raising questions about equitable access.

In December 2022, a rally in Treasuries futures seconds before better-than-expected inflation data hit the BLS website led to concerns about a potential leak or hack. The BLS said at the time it had found no evidence its systems were compromised or that there was any suspicious activity around the release.

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

“BLS takes its data security seriously and is conducting a full investigation into its procedures and controls to ensure the incident is not repeated,” the agency said.

–With assistance from Ruth Carson and Abhishek Vishnoi.

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