US business information provider Thomson Financial is to expand its use of automatic computer programmes to write news stories.

Thomson, which last month acquired the London-based AFX financial news service from AFP, has been using an automated facility to replicate the work of business journalists since March.

The robot reporter can crunch market data in financial reports and file a wire copy round-up with real English sentences within 0.3 seconds of a business releasing the information, according to the company. Thomson has been so pleased with results, it will now widen the scheme's use, Matthew Burkley, senior vice-president of strategy, told the Financial Times.

But the system was criticised by Associated Northcliffe Digital strategic analyst Seamus McCauley, who wrote on his blog: "An automatic news generator is unlikely to pick up the nuances of pro forma reporting.

"Traders executing automatically on the basis of nuanceless computer-generated news are going to get themselves into all sorts of problems when a closer examination of the data reveals that the formulaic constraints of regulated reporting simply don't often reflect the meaning of the news."

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