The head of the Securities and Exchange Commission said that he was not consulted before his agency's enforcement division subpoenaed two writers for Dow Jones & Co.

According to published reports, the SEC's San Francisco office issued subpoenas to the two business columnists, requesting any communications they had with stock-research firm Gradient Analytics Inc. and a hedge fund. The SEC is investigating claims that Gradient analysts and hedge managers conspired to lower the fund's stock price.

Chairman Christopher Cox said that the agency would review the matter as early as this week, while stressing that the issuance of subpoenas was a very rare step for the agency to take.

" Until the appearance of media reports this weekend, neither the chairman of the SEC, the general counsel, the Office of Public Affairs, nor any commissioner was apprised of or consulted in connection with a decision to take such an extraordinary step," Cox said in a statement. "The sensitive issues that such a subpoena raises are of sufficient importance that they should, and will be, considered and decided by the commission before this matter proceeds further."

Linda Chatman Thomsen, director of the enforcement division, who approved the subpoena, has not commented on the issue.

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