September 21, 2007

life in financial markets: nse's egg-headed approach to information dissemination

The National Stock Exchange (NSE) is better than the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) in many many areas. But in one area--that of information dissemination to the media--the NSE is as bad as the BSE. I say this because I interact with them as a part of my work as a financial journalist covering the stock market.

Two weeks ago, I sent a formal email to NSE's corporation communication department ( asking for the 3.30 pm (closing time) values of the Nifty (NSE-50) index for the last three years.

The official closing values that is available at NSE's website for downloading purpose is calculated on the weighted average of the trades of the last 30 minutes of trading (usually 3 pm to 3.30 pm). I wanted the exact 3.30 pm value and not the weighted average based closing values.

I wanted this to compare with last traded values (usually the 3.30 pm ones) of Nifty futures and arrive at the accurate premiums/discounts of the futures prices to the underlying. Ideally, this should be provided by NSE at its website in the derivatives data download files. But the spot underlying value at the the time of last traded price of the futures and options trades is not given. So, I said let me do the hard work myself by getting the underlying spot values of at least the Nifty as at 3.30 pm and mix it with the last traded price of the futures price to get the premiums/discounts for the last 3 years.

This was only for the Nifty values. I also wanted the 3.30 pm prices for the stocks in which futures trading is very liquid. But I said let me first try for the Nifty values.

But, yesterday (Thursday) evening, when I followed up with NSE on my 2-week old email for the 4th-5th time I was told that I can not be given the information "because it is not published information for the public". I was appalled! Firstly, the 3.30 pm value is available to all members of the public if they visit the NSE's website at 3.30 pm and check the real-time values of Nifty and all the stocks. Since the public and the media might not be able to do it day after day they might want to get it later separately from the exchange.

NSE's egg-headed approach to such basic sharing of information is worrisome. This is not the first time I have encountered such egg-headedness of NSE's corporate communications department. It has happened earlier too. I have even brought this notice to the managing director of NSE, Ravi Narain, a couple of times. But he does not appear to have done anything in this regard. He seems to be blinded to the deficiencies of the corporate communications department.

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