BEA (Bureau of Economic Analysis); last day of the quarter, 8:30am EST, covers
previous quarter data.
The US Commerce department publishes the GDP in 3 modes: advance; preliminary
GDP is a gross measure of market activity. It represents the monetary value of all the goods
and services produced by an economy over a specified period. This includes consumption,
government purchases, investments, and the trade balance. The GDP is perhaps the greatest
indicator of the economic health of a country. It is usually measured on a yearly basis, but
quarterly stats are also released.
The Commerce Department releases an "advance report" on the last day of each quarter.
Within a month it follows up with the "preliminary report" and then the "final report" is
released yet a month later. The most recent GDP figures have a relatively high importance to
the markets. GDP indicates the pace at which a country's economy is growing (or shrinking).
Institute for Supply Management; the first business day of the month, 10:00am EST,
covers previous month data
The Manufacturing ISM Report On Business is based on data compiled from monthly replies to
questions asked of purchasing executives in more than 400 industrial companies. It reflects a
compound average of 5 main economic areas (new customers' orders 30%; manufacturing 25%;
employment 20%; supply orders 15%; inventories 10%). Any data over 50 points shows the
expansion of economic activities, and data under 50 points shows a contraction.
University of Michigan; first of each month, covers previous month data
A survey of consumer sentiment conducted by the University of Michigan. The index is
becoming more and more useful for investors. It gives a snapshot of whether or not consumers
feel like spending money.
Department of Labor; the first Friday of each month, 8:30am EST, covers previous
The data intended to represent changes in the total number of paid U.S. workers of any
business, excluding the following:
- general government employees;
- private household employees;
- employees of nonprofit organizations that provide assistance to individuals;
- farm employees.
The total non-farm payroll accounts for approximately 80% of the workers responsible for
the entire gross domestic product of the United States. The report is used to assist
government policy-makers and economists in determining the current state of the economy
and predicting future levels of economic activity. It is a very big market mover, due largely to
high fluctuations in the forecasting.
Institute for Supply Management; the first business day of each month, 10:00am EST,
covers previous month's data
The PMI is a composite index that is based on five major indicators including: new orders;
inventory levels; production; supplier deliveries and the employment environment. Each
indicator has a different weight and the data is adjusted for seasonal factors. The Association
of Purchasing Managers surveys over 300 purchasing managers nationwide who represent 20
different industries. A PMI index over 50 indicates that manufacturing is expanding, while
anything below 50 means that the industry is contracting. The PMI report is an extremely
important indicator for the financial markets as it is the best indicator of factory production.
The index is popularly used for detecting inflationary pressure as well as indicating
manufacturing activity. The PMI is not as strong as the CPI in detecting inflation, but because
the data is released one day after the month, it is very timely. Should the PMI report an
unexpected change, it is usually followed by a quick reaction in market. One especially key
area of the report is growth in new orders, which predicts manufacturing activity in future
Bureau of Census; around the 12th of each month, 8:30am EST, covers previous month
Retail sales are a key driving force in US economy. This indicator tracks the merchandise sold
by companies within the retail trade and measures the total consumer spending on retails
sales (not including service costs). The retail revenues are a major part (two thirds) of the US
economy. The Census Bureau surveys hundreds of various sized firms and business offering
some type of retail trade. Every month the data is released showing the percent change from
the previous month's data. A negative number indicates that sales decreased from the
previous months sales. This indicator is a very big market mover because it is used as a gauge
of consumer activity and confidence as higher sales figures indicate increased economic
activity. The data is very timely because retail sales data is released within 2 weeks of the