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Major U.S. Economic Indicators

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1Major U.S. Economic Indicators Empty Major U.S. Economic Indicators Sat Jul 25, 2015 2:19 pm

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Among the hundreds of economic reports released by the U.S. government or its agencies, some have more importance than others, as far as the trader is concerned. Following is a sampling of some reports that tend to have the most effect on financial markets, keeping in mind that this list could change as other reports gain more attention:

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – 
The sum of all goods and services produced either by domestic or foreign companies. GDP indicates the pace at which a country's economy is growing (or shrinking) and is considered the broadest indicator of economic output and growth.

Industrial Production – 
Chain-weighted indicator measuring the change in production of the nation's factories, mines and utilities. Usually associated with capacity utilization, a measure of industrial capacity and how many available resources among factories, utilities and mines are being used. The manufacturing sector accounts for one-quarter of the U.S. economy. The capacity utilization rate provides an estimate of how much factory capacity is in use.

Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) – 
The Institute of Supply Management, formerly called the National Association of Purchasing Managers (NAPM), releases a monthly composite index of national manufacturing conditions, constructed from data on new orders, production, supplier delivery times, backlogs, inventories, prices, employment, export orders and import orders. It is divided into manufacturing and non-manufacturing sub-indices. 

Producer Price Index (PPI)– 
A measure of price changes in the manufacturing sector. PPI measures average changes in selling prices received by domestic producers in the manufacturing, mining, agriculture and electric utility industries for their output. PPI figures most often used for economic analysis are those for finished goods, intermediate goods and crude goods. 

Consumer Price Index (CPI) – 
A measure of the average price level paid by urban consumers (80% of population) for a fixed basket of goods and services. CPI reports price changes in more than 200 categories. It also includes various user fees and taxes directly associated with the prices of specific goods and services. 

Durable Goods Orders – 
Measures new orders placed with domestic manufacturers for immediate and future delivery of factory hard goods. A durable good is defined as a good that lasts an extended period of time (more than three years) during which its services are extended. 

Non-farm payrolls– 
A feature report released on Friday of the first week of each month that indicates the number of new jobs generated by the economy during the previous month and the percentage of workers seeking employment that remain unemployed. 

Employment Cost Index (ECI)– 
Payroll employment is a measure of the number of jobs in more than 500 industries in all states and 255 metropolitan areas. The employment estimates are based on a survey of larger businesses and counts the number of paid employees working part-time or full-time in the nation's business and government establishments. 

Retail Sales – 
A measure of the total receipts of retail stores from samples representing all sizes and kinds of business in retail trade throughout the nation. It is the timeliest indicator of broad consumer spending patterns and is adjusted for normal seasonal variation, holidays and trading-day differences. Retail sales include durable and nondurable merchandise sold and services and excise taxes incidental to the sale of merchandise. Excluded are sales taxes collected directly from the customer. 

Housing Starts – 
Measures the number of residential units on which construction is begun each month. A start in construction is defined as the beginning of excavation of the foundation for the building and is comprised primarily of residential housing. Housing is very interest rate sensitive and is one of the first sectors to react to changes in interest rates. Significant reaction of start/permits to changing interest rates signals interest rates are nearing a trough or peak. To analyze, focus on the percentage change in levels from the previous month. The report is released around the middle of the following month. Existing home sales and new home sales are other significant reports that reflect how the housing market is doing, one of the most important aspects of the economy.

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