18 August 2014 ~ The Survival of Live News Squawk Services

Anyone who has ever taken day-trading half seriously will know the vital importance of real-time news updates.  To trade without a live news “Squawk” service would be eventually devastating to any trading account.
Whether you intend to trade breaking news or not, you must at minimum be aware of the regular economic data  releases and central bank statements, as either of these can send markets haywire.

Several alternative market Squawks exist and I have some experience with many of them, but among the most  obvious long running London-based firms are:

* RANSquawk (The big brother to Talking Forex)
* LiveSquawk
* ITC BrokerTalk

This post isn’t intended to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of any of these services, but I will say  this; the speed and quality of the updates depends heavily on the guy or girl behind the microphone, rather  than the name of the firm itself.
If you have a large trading account, I would recommend having two Squawks simultaneously, to cover all bases.

Instead, the question I am focussing on is whether the traditional live news “Squawk” services will survive the next decade, as they face various challenges.

1) Fragile Demand

The Squawkers have a pretty strong presence on Twitter…











But despite equity markets rallying for the last few years, stock market volume has been in decline. Has the shift towards algorithmic trading discouraged human participation?







This argument often rages on financial news shows like CNBC…

 – CNBC: High Frequency Trading Makes Up 67% of Volume Of Stock Market

A one month subscription to one of the services mentioned above costs as little as £20 – it begs the question,  how does this model make any money at all?
Some signs of innovation e.g. LiveSquawks charting services, the RANSquawk chat room, suggest the present model is undergoing some change – although in my personal opinion the real meat is in the provision of breaking news updates.

2) The rise of the machines
As has been discussed before (e.g. herehere & here) a great deal of the transactions taking place across the modern exchanges is relatively meaningless, algo-driven churn. Just as the self-service checkouts have displaced human workers in our supermarkets, human traders are likewise being made obsolete.
As the machines become more sophisticated and capable of pricing-in breaking news autonomously, will there come a point where there is literally no chance for humans to compete for news-driven profits? This Bloomberg link offers a bit of insight in to the advances being made in the field of natural language processing and sentiment analysis of social media.


3) “According to Sources…”
Squawk firms are quite secretive about where they get their data from, and you’ll often hear the phrase  “according to sources…”.
Nine times out of ten you can be confident these headlines are being read directly from Bloomberg and Reuters  terminals. Dow Jones also provide the odd piece (heh) of tradeable news too, and have become so protective of  it that in March 2014 they set their lawyers against RANSquawk.


So far RANSquawk haven’t been felt pressured enough to change the way they present their news (as far as I know) but it just goes to show the legal environment has the potential to turn toxic for Squawkers.

4) Social media – Galaxia
Famed sci-fi author Asimov imagined a distant future in which mankind is evolving in to a telepathically linked web of individuals, collectively known as Galaxia. Twitter reminds me of Galaxia. Thoughts and ideas can spread around the world almost instantly, and this has led to some interesting news plays in the past.

Is the decentralisation of key news away from the major providers like Bloomberg a threat or an opportunity to the Squawkers? I think maybe the latter…  perhaps it is an opportunity for them to branch out and master the art of finding the nuggets of gold deep within the Twitter mountain. LiveSquawk are already on to this, employing a specific “Twitter person” to monitor the social media!

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