Every week the The Energy Information Administration (EIA) Natural Gas report comes out, telling traders how much natural gas is being stored in the U.S.
The report comes out at 10:30 a.m. on Thursdays, and this week it said that nat gas in storage fell by 194 billion cubic feet (bcf) last week to 2,802 bcf.
Of course, when this news comes out, people trade on this information the moment they get it and that impacts the price of the commodity.
Today, the brilliant minds over at Nanex, a market research firm, noticed that someone started trading on the report about 400 milliseconds before it was released.
With high frequency trading software, that 400 milliseconds (roughly the time it takes you to blink an eye) can really make a difference, and you can see that difference in the charts below.
Regulators, meanwhile, have decided not to prosecute anyone who trades on news milliseconds before everyone else, leak or no leak.
Check out the charts below (from Nanex).
This first chart is pretty simple. It shows United States Natural Gas (UNG) trading between 10:29:59 and 10:30:04 this morning.
You can see on your left before 10:30 (and between 500 and 750 on x-axis of the chart) there’s a flurry of trading activity. Then it stops and starts again at 10:30 when the report officially comes out.
That shows that some people had the information to trade on and some people didn’t.
Pretty nuts. This next chart is just gorgeous. It shows everyone and their mum jumping into the trade over time. What you really need to pay attention to is the blue on the bottom. That’s where the price is — the right price.
The more people hit the right price (“hit the bid”), the bluer and/or darker it gets.
You can see an amazing animation of this activity below.
Wild what can happen in the blink of an eye, no?