Monthly Article
Topics for March


This Issue
March 1999

Various Topics
Page 1

Tech Talk
Page 2

Market Statistics 
Update &  IPO's
Page 3 

  The views and information expressed in this document reflect the opinions and experience of the author Robert C. Pelletier.  Neither CSI nor the author undertake or intend to provide tax advice or trading advice in any market or endorse any outside individual or firm.  All recommendations are provided for their informational value only.  Readers should consult competent financial advisors or outside counsel before making any software purchase or investment decision.  CSI does not stand behind or endorse the products of any outside firms.

Copyright (c) 1998 Commodity Systems Inc. (CSI).  All rights are reserved.


Topics discussed in this month's journal.
Coping in the Information Age
Data Release Schedule
IPE and LSE Update
CSIMillennium (CSIM) Format with CSI Y2K Extensions

Coping in the Information Age

   They say that the Internet and satellite communications are making our world shrink faster by the day. You surely can't tell it by our database of world market activity. It is growing exponentially; for just as the world seems to be shrinking, the range of information we must acquire and process is growing by leaps and bounds. The trick is keeping an abundance of information from becoming an overload of data.

   CSI must sort through the tradeable products of over 50 world exchanges each day. They produce information that we (and you) cannot ignore. This is why we offer all markets on all world exchanges, with staggered posting times as data becomes available. Please see our Data Release Schedule for details.

   Just as the scope of market data expands daily, so too does the longevity of historical data on the markets. We now add nearly a megabyte of new information to the database each day. Although the cost of acquiring historical data is less than that of current data, the value of distant pricing information does not diminish with time. Analysts use the past as windows to the future. That's why historical data extending all the way back to the first trading day is available for 98% of the data series supplied by CSI. For Unfair Advantage® users, this data is resident on your computer, squeezed down to 5 or 10% of its original size.


   Our goal in developing Unfair Advantage was to produce software that would meet the varied needs of our customers. We wanted software that could handle the computational requirements of back adjusted, Nth Nearest Future, Gann style, open interest weighted, and Perpetual Contract® data series, all drawn from a single database held on the user's computer. We wanted to accommodate each of these series in many forms, including roll-forward triggers based on volume, open interest, volume and open interest, volume or open interest, date relative to the start or end of the month, and date relative to contract end. We wanted to handle the splicing of blended contracts with respect to opening prices, closing prices, or close-to-open relationships. We wanted computed contracts to be routinely built with all traded contracts, with non-switching contracts, or with any selected combination. We wanted to offer charting of all data reserves and studies for simple analysis. I am pleased to say that Unfair Advantage meets all of these goals and more.

Remote Revisions:

   Among the unique features we wanted to build into Unfair Advantage was the ability to stay on top of the ever-changing trading environment. First, we required a way to remotely self-correct quoting errors within a 24-hour period after such errors were reported. We wanted the software to permit remote adjustments to historical data to accommodate changes in conversion factors, reporting currency, contract size, units of measure, volume or open interest units, etc. We also wanted it to have a means to globally notify users of significant announcements that might surface from day to day. Unfair Advantage meets these goals as well.

Format Compatibility: 

   Information comes in many forms, making compatibility with a number of popular formats an important plus for Unfair Advantage. The supported formats include:

  • 1) The standard Y2K-compatible CSI format (for dates 1800 through 2200) which will handle your needs with six full decimal digits of precision for up-to eleven fields (including date) for each day on file.
  • 2) The CSI Millennium (CSIM) format, which is also Y2K compatible and can handle up-to perhaps 20 fields of positive and/or negative floating point values per day. This format follows the old CompuTrac specification, with some revisions that will carry users through the 21st Century. It is compatible with older (pre-6.5) versions of MetaStock. We are also hopeful of becoming compatible with MetaStock's newest version that is no longer compatible with the original CompuTrac data format. We'll keep you posted.
  • 3) ASCII Text, Excel spread sheet, dBase, Paradox and other formats may be used to process data spooled from UA's master database.
   For more information on the CSI Millennium (CSIM) format, please see the copyrighted specification. Feel free to and pass it on to your system developers so that they can become compliant. We encourage use of this open format because it will keep your software humming for at least another 100 years and will remain compatible with Unfair Advantage and QuickTrieve®.

Supplemental Support:

   One of the things we do at CSI that is different from other data banking firms is the production of this monthly Technical Journal. Our goal is to keep you informed of new industry developments and internal happenings at CSI. This includes listing market statistics such as new IPOs, stock splits, symbol changes, and new markets for both commodities and stocks as they begin trading. We believe it is important to publish details on format changes, additions and updates so that you can stay current. Our printed journal also includes the industry's only error report, which discloses every known error committed by CSI or acknowledged by the exchanges in the past month.

Technical Support:

   Although our Technical Journal includes a "Tech Talk" section presenting common questions and concerns, it cannot provide the one-on-one personalized attention our customers sometimes require. That is why we maintain a Technical Support Staff to offer assistance when needed. Although they may not always be available at the time of your initial call, they typically provide a call-back to questioners within one hour. Naturally, CSI stays open on every trading day of the year, with evening support Monday through Friday. 

   Yes, the Internet and satellite communications make it easier for us to stay connected in this information age. They do not, however, reduce the burden on the modern investor to stay informed. At CSI, we believe that our unique combination of data, software and support help investors bridge that gap.


Data Release Schedule

(All times Eastern - Please allow for seasonal Daylight Savings Time adjustments)

9:45 A.M. Pacific Rim commodities
4:30 P.M. European commodities except the IPE
5:30 P.M. All other commodities and futures except stock index futures
5:55 P.M. All index markets
6:30 P.M. All commodity cash prices and commodity options
7:30 P.M. All stocks and mutual funds and the IPE
8:00 P.M. Final posting of stock options, late arrivals, omissions and corrections


IPE and LSE Update

   We have had quite a bit of feedback from CSI subscribers since announcing in January that we were rolling back the release time for London's IPE (International Petroleum Exchange) data and that there are alternatives for calculating IPE prices. Several customers have requested that we resume the earlier posting time and others have expressed concern that we might eliminate the IPE from our data feed entirely. Neither of these alternatives is in our current plans.

   We had an unproductive exchange of e-mails with representatives of the IPE in December or January, during which we conveyed our belief that the dissemination of market data by companies such as CSI serves to promote trading at the various exchanges. We had hoped to make the point to the IPE that if they make the price of data too high, one avenue of free marketing would be curtailed and traders could find other, friendlier markets for investment.

   For the time being, it appears that the IPE will back away from its marketing strategy of vigorously imposing high exchange fees on end-of-day data vendors such as CSI, who attempt to publish market information after it reaches the public domain. If anyone knows of a data source that posts the IPE data earlier than 7:00 p.m. eastern time (midnight London time), please let us know. We will attempt to use that source as a way to get the IPE to modify their policy on prohibiting access to their summary data immediately after their markets close.

   Our current plans are to continue releasing IPE data at the new, later time when the IPE considers their market information passes into the public domain. If customer demand for this data suggests that we should revert to shortly after the energy markets close, we will consider doing so. This would require passing on significantly higher costs for the users requiring earlier access, however. If you have concerns or suggestions about IPE data, please forward your comments to, using the subject "IPE FEEDBACK."  Your input will help us determine the right course of action to best serve our customers. 

   The LSE (London Stock Exchange) is another entity that requires stiff exchange fees from news organizations offering their market information. The LSE does not honor any sort of public domain status for their end-of-day data, and they retain an indefinite copyright. It is our belief that users who might fall into a personal and private category may escape the LSE's annual exchange fee of some 3,000 British Pounds.

   We are negotiating with them for such rights and will keep you posted. Don't be surprised if they expect every user of their information to pay the fee. In our view, their business practices should help to curtail trading volume on their exchange. It is our guess that they won't be setting any significant trading volume records in the near future. 

   Whichever direction we ultimately go in reporting data from these overseas exchanges, our decisions will likely be reflected by database companies throughout the industry. We will all be faced with high fees from certain exchanges and will all be forced to either raise prices or limit access, depending on our respective customers' needs.

IPE Commodities

CSI#   Symbol    Name

134     LGO     Gas Oil
136     LCO     Brent Crude Oil
200     LFU     Unleaded Gasoline
304     NGL     Natural Gas (balance point)