LONDON (Reuters) - The head of a British parliamentary committee has asked a regulator to look into media reports, including one by Reuters, about unusual movements in financial markets ahead of the release of official economic data.


"I have seen recent press reports which suggest that ONS statistics may be being leaked prior to their official release, and that this information is being used for inappropriate gain in financial markets," Andrew Tyrie, chair of the Treasury Committee, said in a letter to the Financial Conduct Authority.


"The Financial Conduct Authority will want to consider this matter, if it is not already doing so, given one of its objectives is to protect and enhance the integrity of the UK financial system."


Reuters reported on Tuesday that on eight occasions over the past 12 months the pound moved against the dollar in the minutes before the release of the retail sales numbers in a way that correctly anticipated the direction of the currency once the figures were published.


On Monday, the Wall Street Journal published an analysis of 207 releases of British inflation, industrial production and labor market data, which showed that on 59.5 percent of occasions British government bond futures moved ahead of the data in what proved to be the right direction.


(Writing by William Schomberg; Editing by Elisabeth O'Leary)