The New York Stock Exchange is paying $5 million to settle federal civil charges that it gave some customers an unfair head start by providing them with trading data ahead of the wider public.

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The Securities and Exchange Commission said it marked the first time the agency ever imposed a fine on an exchange. The NYSE and its parent NYSE Euronext also agreed in the settlement to hire an independent consultant to review their systems for delivering market data. They neither admitted nor denied the SEC's allegations.

The NYSE provides tailored data on stock quotes and trades directly to certain customers. The SEC said that starting in 2008 the exchange violated a rule by distributing the data to those customers before putting it in its global information transmissions.