Supply Data Now a Focus of Probe

Has the “channel check” become a criminal act?

Wall Street analysts have been left bewildered in recent days, as federal prosecutors begin to home in on insider-trading cases that appear to involve routinely published information about public-company supply chains.

Case in point: Apple Inc., one of the hottest stocks of the past year, for which an entire industry of well-known and obscure analysts and “expert networks” scramble to report every detail of the company’s undisclosed production plans.

The proliferation of such research raises questions about where prosecutors will draw the lines that define insider trading.

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