Top hedge funds may receive stock analysis from brokerage firmsbefore other investors, according to the New York Times,in the form of electronic surveys about the companies that analystsfollow. Though regulations attempt to control the flow of researchinformation from analysts to investors, documents acquired by theTimes show that in at least four instances, BarclaysGlobal Investors, a unit of BlackRock, attempted to gain nonpublicinformation. Among other questions, the surveys ask analysts aboutpossible earnings surprises. The information gathered is used inthe hedge funds' trading algorithms.

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In the past, information from Wall Street analysts has had thepower to greatly impact stock prices. Brokerage firms sellingFacebook's initial shares warned big investors that analysts haddoubts, but did not share the information with smaller buyers, whothen suffered losses.

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