On 3 September 2019, the FCA published a webpage on how the Market Abuse Regulation (MAR) may apply to information obtained via electoral polling. The webpage sets out how the FCA expects firms and individuals to handle any information that has the potential to be inside information, including information obtained as a result of polling.
The FCA uses an example of an established polling firm that is due to publish polling results, and on publication, the results are likely to impact the price of government bonds traded on regulated trading venues, and meet the other criteria to be classified as inside information. Under such circumstances, it could be classed as an offence under MAR to share such information prior to publication, other than where necessary “in the normal exercise of employment, a profession or duties”.
It could also be an offence under MAR for anyone in possession of the information to trade in the relevant government bonds in advance of publication of the polling results, if they are trading on the basis of the anticipated bond price movement that will result from publication of the results.
Where the inside information definition is not met, MAR does not impose a restriction on individuals and firms collecting or receiving polling information relevant to financial market prices, even while polls are open.
Additionally, the FCA notes that trading in spot foreign exchange (FX) is not covered by the insider dealing provisions of MAR. However, other FCA rules such as the Principles for Businesses, and other legislation may apply. Moreover, trading in spot FX may also be covered by the MAR provisions on market manipulation, where the trading has an impact on relevant financial instruments, such as certain spot FX options.