Furore as US figures leaked on Internet

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The Independent Online
THE US Bureau of Labor Statistics inadvertently leaked crucial employment information on to the Internet yesterday, causing chaos in financial markets.

A part of the official release on non-farm payrolls - one of the most important indicators of trends in US economic activity - found its way on to the Bureau's Internet site either late on Wednesday evening or early on Thursday morning. The jobs report was not due to be released until lunch-time today.

The unscheduled release of the data - which showed slower-than-expected growth in jobs - was discovered by Stone & McCarthy, a US economics analysis firm.

Rumours of a data leak quickly swept through the world's financial markets, and the Bureau was forced to vouch for the validity of the data.

The leaked numbers showed that payroll employment grew by 116,000 in October. Financial markets had expected a rise in employment of 178,000.

Market dealers were furious about the leak, which is now the subject of an investigation by the Labor Department.

The market-sensitive nature of the American farm payroll data means that the figures are usually released to all financial market participants at the same time.