The Wall Street Journal: Data show unusual trading activity in the pound before Bank of England announcements in January, December

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A man walks past the Bank of England

A sharp move in the British pound last month in the minutes ahead of a crucial central-bank decision wasn’t a unique occurrence, according to data reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

The U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority has said it is looking into unusual trading that occurred before a Bank of England policy meeting on Jan. 30. Yet trading-volume data show there was also unusually high activity in the pound the previous month, compared with other announcements dating back to early 2017.

The spike in activity before the official announcement of interest-rate policy comes at a time when the Bank of England has been scrutinizing whether investors are gaining unfair access to its decisions.

On Dec. 19, in the 10 seconds before the bank released its decision to keep interest rates steady, trading volumes for three-month futures tied to the pound against the dollar spiked to more than 300 contracts changing hands in one second, from single digits. At the same time, pound futures ticked as high as $1.3113 from $1.3090 10 seconds before the announcement, according to data and academic analysis.

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