I knew of the Fed decision and growth forecasts around 5-6 minutes before 2 pm last Wednesday, even though I was not there. I work at a news organization represented at the Fed statement “lockup” and the Bernanke press conference last week. This was in no way secure the way the Labor and Commerce Department lockups are. Those in the Fed statement lockup were able to communicate by text message and email after they received the statements and before 2 pm. Those in the room awaiting the press conference also were able to communicate electronically after the received the statement, several minutes before 2 pm. Everything was honor-based, but anyone in their respective newsrooms could have gotten the information early from them and passed it on. Given the large number of reporters involved, there are many ways the decision could have gotten into the market several minutes before the announcement. I am truly surprised it was only seen in gold trade. The fact is, though, the Fed made it possible for many people to leak it.
And banish the thought that the Fed itself could have made a "gross mistake" and actually sent out the decision or the statement earlier to one or more conflicted parties on purpose. After all, we know it only does that with the Fed Minutes.