A new report from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) published on Tuesday found an "overall improvement in the measures of cleanliness in the Australian listed equity market over the past decade." In particular, it found that leaks of insider information ahead of material announcements appear to be declining.
The conclusion is based on both assessments based on an established market cleanliness measure and a new measure ASIC developed to examine timely and profitable trading before material announcements.
ASIC's new measure found that 95% of material announcements exhibited no (or negligible) anomalous trading patterns ahead of an announcement from November 2014 to October 2015.
"Market integrity is fundamental to well-developed financial markets. Given the significance of market integrity to financial markets and the broader economy, ASIC's strategic priority of ensuring fair and efficient markets is vitally important," says ASIC commissioner Cathie Armour in a statement.
"We have seen a gradual improvement in market cleanliness indicators over time and across different segments of Australia's listed equities markets," she added. "ASIC will continue to monitor market cleanliness and enhance our surveillance and enforcement capabilities against market misconduct."
In addition, the report notes that independent international research ranks Australia favourably in terms of market cleanliness, compared to other developed equities markets.
Furthermore, an analysis by the M&A Research Centre at Cass Business School, which was published in November 2015, found that information leakage ahead of merger announcements has generally declined over the previous six years, the ASIC report says.
On average, the Cass analysis found that 5.6% of deals in Canada between 2009 and 2014 showed evidence of leakage compared with 6.6% of deals in the U.S. and 3.5% in Australia. That research suggested that the improvement is due to "stronger regulatory enforcement, tighter internal governance, and increased risks to a transaction when leaking a deal."