Economic figures

Written by Trader Maker

UK Figures



PMI Services

A monthly gauge of the UK service sector that takes into account business outlook. The survey queries executives in transport and communications, financial intermediation, business services, personal services, computing and IT, hotels and restaurants.

BOE interest rates

The announcement of whether the Bank of England has increased, decreased or maintained the key interest rate. The BoE meets monthly to decide on monetary policy. After each meeting policy decisions are announced. The main task of the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee is to set the monetary stance by fixing the overnight borrowing rate, which is incremental in determining the short-term rates. Through this mechanism, the BoE attempts to affect price levels in order to keep inflation within the target range while maintaining stable economic growth and employment.

PPI (input)

A monthly survey that measures change in input prices as incurred by UK manufacturers. Input prices include the cost of materials used plus operation costs of running the business. The index can be used as a measure of inflation, given that higher input costs will likely be passed on from producers to consumers in the form of higher retail prices. The figure is also calculated as Core Input PPI, which excludes volatile inputs such as food and energy that may distort the data. As such, the core figure is a more appropriate measure of inflation.

The headline is the percentage change in the Producer Price Index (Input) from the previous quarter and previous year.

PPI (output)

A monthly survey that measures the price changes of goods produced by UK manufacturers. The figure is also known as "Factory Gate Price" because it usually matches the price of goods when they first leave the factory. Increased prices in manufacturing typically lead to higher retail prices for consumers. However, it is also likely that higher output prices are caused by manufacturers charging a higher premium due to higher demand for their goods. Consequently, market trends in consumption should be considered with Output PPI to avoid data misinterpretation. There is also a Core Output PPI, which excludes volatile items such as food and energy. The Core PPI is generally a better measure of inflation because it excludes those items whose short-term price fluctuations can distort inflationary data. The headline is the percentage change in the Producer Price Index (Output) from the previous quarter and previous year.

Trade balance

The difference between exports and imports of British goods and services. The Trade Balance is one of the biggest components of the United Kingdom’s Balance of Payment, thus giving valuable insight into pressures on the value of the Pound. A positive Balance of Trade figure (surplus) indicates that exports are greater than imports. When imports exceed exports, the UK experiences a trade deficit. Because foreign goods must be purchased using foreign currency, trade deficits fundamentally reflects that the Sterling is leaking out of the country. Such currency outflows may lead to a natural depreciation of a Pound, unless countered by similar capital inflows. At a bare minimum, deficits will weigh down the value of the currency.

BOE minutes

The Bank of England MPC keeps notes from its rate decision meetings. The detailed minutes from these meetings give some of the best insight into the monetary policy decision making process and what the BOE thinks about economic developments inside and outside of the UK. Markets tend to focus most of their attention on the key points discussed during the meeting that suggest future interest rate changes. For example if the minutes state that high consumer spending and a rapidly expanding housing market are fuelling inflation, then markets participants will tend to monitor these key sectors closely in order to gauge the likelihood of a rate increases in the future. As minutes come out two weeks after the BOE meets, markets will discount some information in the report. Market participants tend to read into the overall mood the Bank of England gives during the meeting. If the BOE is cautious about the inflation outlook for the economy, then the market has a higher likelihood of future rate increases. If the Bank is optimistic, it suggests to markets that inflation is in check and that future rate increases are less likely.


An indicator for broad overall growth in the United Kingdom. Robust UK GDP growth signals a heightened level of economic activity, and therefore a high demand for currency. Economic expansion also raises concerns about inflationary pressure, which generally prompts monetary authorities to increase interest rates. This means that positive GDP readings are generally bullish for a given currency, while negative readings are bearish. Due to the untimeliness of this report and because data on GDP components are available beforehand, the actual GDP figure is usually well anticipated. But given its overall significance GDP has the tendency to move the market upon release, acting to confirm or upset economic expectations. Robust GDP growth signals a heightened level of activity that is generally associated with a healthy economy. However economic expansion also raises concerns about inflationary pressures which may lead to monetary policy tightening.

US Figures



ISM non manufacturing

ISM Non-Manufacturing gauge of business conditions in non-manufacturing industries, based on measures of employment trends, prices and new orders. Though non-manufacturing sectors make up the majority of the economy, the ISM Non-Manufacturing has less market impact because non-manufacturing data tends to be more cyclical and predictable. However, these sectors do account for a considerable portion of CPI. As a result, the figure gives insight into conditions which can impact output growth and inflationary pressures.


Employment Change

The ADP national employment report is computed from a subset of ADP records that in the last six months of 2008, represented approximately 400,000 U.S. business clients and approximately 24 million U.S. employees working in all private industrial sectors. The data are collected for pay periods that can be interpolated to include the week of the 12th of each month, and processed with statistical methodologies similar to those used by the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics to compute employment from its monthly survey of establishments. ADP also use ADP contracted with Macroeconomic Advisors to compute a monthly report that would ultimately help to predict monthly nonfarm payrolls from the Bureau of Labour Statistic's employment situation. The ADP report only covers private (excluding government) payrolls at this time. As a simplification of the process used by Macroeconomic Advisors, estimates are based upon statistical comparison of ADP growth rates to BLS payroll employment growth rates at the industry level. ADP also adds in the BLS initial claims data for the week just prior to the employment report as part of its estimation procedure. (Automatic Data Processing (ADP)/Macroeconomic Advisers)

Unemployment Rate

The percentage of people registered as unemployed in the United States. The figure is calculated by dividing the number of unemployed individuals in the labour force by the total labour force. Where the headline figure Change in Non-Farm Payrolls generally moves the market upon release, the Unemployment Rate serves as the most popular snap-shot figure for current labour conditions in the US. The unemployment figure can give insight into the economy's production, consumption, earnings, and consumer sentiment. A lower unemployment rate equates to increased expenditure, as more people have jobs and wages to spend. Increased expenditure encourages economic growth, which can spark inflation pressures. Conversely, high levels of unemployment signal economic instability and weakened demand.

Non Farm Payroll

Monthly change in employment excluding the farming sector. Non-farm payrolls is the most closely watched indicator in the Employment Situation, considered the most comprehensive measure of job creation in the US. Such a distinction makes the NFP figure highly significant, given the importance of labor to the US economy. Specifically, political pressures come into play, as the Fed is responsible for keeping employment in a healthy range and utilizes interest rate changes to do so. A surge in new Non-farm Payrolls suggests rising employment and potential inflation pressures, which the Fed often counters with rate increases. On the other hand, a consistent decline in Non-farm Employment suggests a slowing economy, which makes a decline in rates more likely.

Trade Balance

The US Trade Balance refers to the difference between exports of goods and services out of the US, and imports to America. The trade balance is one of the biggest components of the US's Balance of Payment, which gives valuable insight and heavy pressure on the value of the dollar. A positive Trade Balance (surplus) indicates that exports are greater than imports. When imports exceed exports, the US experiences a trade deficit. Because foreign goods are usually purchased using foreign currency, trade deficits usually reflect dollars leaking out of the country. Such currency outflows may lead to a natural depreciation of a dollar, unless countered by comparable capital inflows (US Net Foreign Security Purchases, or TICs data reports on such capital flows). At a bare minimum, deficits fundamentally weigh down the value of the currency.

Retail Sales

Monthly measure of sales of goods to consumers at retail outlets. The figure is a significant market mover, valuable both for its timeliness and insight into consumer demand and consumer confidence. Consumer spending is vital to the US economy, accounting for more than two-thirds of all economic activity. Given that retail sales make up a hefty one third of such spending, the Advanced Retail Sales figure acts as a measure of consumer demand before GDP is released.

Retail Sales

Less Autos

The Retail Sales figure is also reported excluding automobile sales. Given their high cost, auto sales contribute significantly to retails sales, comprising nearly a quarter of the figure. As a result, changes in automobile sales can produce high fluctuations in the retails sales report. Vehicle sales are prone to seasonal changes, thereby easily distorting retail sales trends. To provide a more accurate picture of retail sales the auto component is removed and followed more closely.

University of Michigan

Assesses consumer confidence regarding personal finances, business conditions and purchasing power based on hundreds of telephone surveys. Especially valued for its quick turnaround, the University of Michigan Confidence survey is considered one of the foremost indicators of US consumer sentiment. The survey polls a smaller sample of consumers and is less established than the Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index. Declining consumer confidence levels usually accompany any fall income or wages and precede drops in consumer spending. A low or falling U Mich Sentiment value is considered an early indicator of an economic downturn. As a result, investors, retailers and traders alike all watch the figure for insight into the general health of the economy. UMich figures have recently preceded turning in overall GDP. The headline figure is calculated by subtracting the percentage of unfavourable replies from the percentage of favourable replies.

Business Inventories

Unsold goods held by manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers. Business Inventories are often able to show economic turning points. A significant decrease in inventories implies that the economy is on the verge of rapid growth because stockrooms for businesses are empty and need to be replenished, which triggers higher production overall. Inventories are also useful when examined in conjunction with total business sales. Rising inventories paired with slackening business sales are indicative of troubled economic times. When business sales slow, retailers' inventories increase and they are forced cut back on wholesale orders. Wholesalers, affected by the fear of swelling inventories, will slow or even shut down production in factories.

Housing Starts

Gauges the change in the number of new houses built in the United States. Housing Starts are one of the earliest indicators of the housing market, only trailing Building Permits in timeliness. Because high outlays are needed to start construction projects, an increase in Housing Starts implies an increase in investment and business optimism. Finally, the Housing Starts figure gives insight into consumer activity, since new home purchases typically require a large investment for consumers. Given such connections to consumer and corporate sentiment, real estate generally leads economic developments. A sharp drop in new home construction is a warning signal of economic slowdown. Conversely, a rebound in the Housing Starts paves the way for economic recovery. Housing Starts data is differentiated by building types (single family houses, 2 to 4 residence units and 5 or more residence units). The single family housing starts is a more reliable economic indicator than multifamily housing starts, as single family house building is driven by demand and consumer confidence, whereas multifamily house building is more often motivated by speculative real estate investors. The report headline is expressed in volume of houses built. The figures are in the thousands of units.

PPI (month on month)

Measures changes in the selling prices producers charge for goods and services, and well as tracks how prices feed through the production process. Because producers tend to pass on higher costs to consumers as higher retail prices, the PPI is valuable as an early indicator of inflation. Simply put, inflation reflects a decline in the purchasing power of the Dollar, where each dollar buys fewer goods and services. The report also gives insight into how higher prices from raw materials flow toward the final product. A rise in PPI signals an increase in inflationary pressures. Given the economic instability associated with rising price levels, the Fed often will raise interest rates to check inflation. A low or falling PPI is indicative of declining prices, and may suggest an economic slowdown.

PPI Core (MOM)

Core PPI, Excluding Food and Energy

The PPI is also reported without the volatile food and energy components. In addition to being seasonally volatile, the two comprise a significant portion of US goods. As a result, any sudden disruption in oil or food supplies will significantly distort the Producer Price Index inflation assessment. By excluding such entities, Core PPI is able to provide a truer, more consistent picture of US inflation trends.


(EX food and energy)

The CPI is also reported excluding food and energy; two of its most volatile components. These components are particularly sensitive to temporary economic factors like oil prices, natural disasters and seasonal affects. Consequently, CPI excluding Food and Energy provides a more stable figure, but at the cost of overlooking two significant sectors in the economy (together food and energy comprise nearly a quarter of the goods included in the CPI).

Philadelphia FED

Survey conducted by the Philadelphia Fed questioning manufacturers in the Third Federal Reserve District on general business conditions. Conducted since 1968, the "Philly Fed" survey is an established report, valued for its timeliness, scope of coverage and tendency to forecast developments in the market moving ISM Manufacturing figure Higher Philadelphia Fed Survey figures indicate a positive outlook from manufacturers, suggesting increased production. Higher production contributes to economic growth, which is generally bullish for the dollar.

Existing Home sales

Records sales of previously owned homes in the United States . This report provides a fairly accurate assessment of housing market conditions, and because of the sensitivity of the housing market to business cycle twists, it can be an important indicator of overall conditions at times when housing is particularly important to the economy. While used home sales are not counted in GDP, they do affect the United States economy. Sellers of used homes often use capital gains from property sales on consumption that stimulate the economy. Higher levels of consumer spending may also increase inflationary pressures, even as they help grow the economy. The existing home sales report is not as timely as other housing indicators like New Home Sales or Building Permits. By the time the Existing Home Sales are recorded, market conditions may have changed.

Durable Goods

The value of orders placed for relatively long lasting goods. Durable Goods are expected to last more than three years. Such products often require large investments and usually reflect optimism on the part of the buyer that their expenditure will be worthwhile Because orders for goods have large sway over the actual production, this figure serves as an excellent forecast of U.S. output to come. Durable Goods are typically sensitive to economic changes. When consumers become sceptical about economic conditions, sales of durable goods are one of the first to be impacted since consumers can delay purchases of durable items, like cars and televisions, only spending money on necessities in times of economic hardship. Conversely, when consumer confidence is restored, orders for durable goods rebound quickly. The data is highly volatile as well, some volatility is eliminated with the Durable Goods Orders excluding Transportation figure, making it the more closely watched indicator.

ISM Manufacturing

ISM Manufacturing assesses the state of US industry by surveying executives on expectations for future production, new orders, inventories, employment and deliveries. Though manufacturing accounts for a relatively small portion of GDP, fluctuations in manufacturing tend to bear the most responsibility for changes in GDP. Consequently, developments in manufacturing often front run trends in the overall economy, making the ISM Manufacturing figure a leading indicator of economic turnarounds. A pickup in demand for manufactured products after a period of recession, reflected by a higher ISM figure, strongly suggests a reversal upward. Conversely a slowdown in manufacturing orders and production during a boom suggests a slowing of the economy.

GDP (quarter on quarter)

The GDP for the United States is a gauge of the overall output (goods & services) of the U.S. economy on the continental US GDP is the most comprehensive overall measure of economic output and provides key insight as to the driving forces of the economy. If the figure increases, then the economy is improving, and thus the dollar tends to strengthen. If the number falls short of expectations or meets the consensus, dollar bearishness may be triggered. This sort of reaction is again tied to interest rates, as traders expect an accelerating economy, consumers will be affected by inflation and consequently interest rates will rise. However, much like the CPI, a negative change in GDP is more difficult to trade; just because the pace of growth has slowed does not mean it has deteriorated. On the other hand, a better than expected number will usually result in the dollar rising as it implicates that a quickly expanding economy will sooner or later require higher interest rates to keep inflation in check.

Chicago PMI

Monthly measure of the business conditions based on surveys of purchasing managers across Illinois, Indiana and Michigan. Released on the last business day of the reporting month, the report's significance has recently declined, with its only significance being that it precedes the more anticipated ISM report. Subsequently, it is used to predict the ISM report as the Chicago survey retains a high correlation with the broader economic release. 

European Figures




IFO Business climate

One of the country's key business sentiment surveys. The survey is conducted monthly, querying German firms on the current German business climate as well as their expectations for the next six months. As the largest economy in the Euro-zone, Germany is responsible for approximately a quarter of the total Euro-Zone GDP. Consequently, the German IFO is a significant economic health indicator for the Euro-zone as a whole. Positive readings bode well for the economy, suggesting increased consumer spending and economic growth. Conversely, low IFO readings may be indicative of economic slowdown.


PMI Manufacturing

The Euro-zone Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) assesses business conditions in the manufacturing sector. Because the manufacturing sector represents nearly a quarter of total Euro-zone GDP, the Euro-zone Manufacturing PMI is both a significant and timely indicator of business conditions and the general health of the economy. Results are quantified in an index in which values above 50 indicate an expected increase of business conditions and values below 50 signal an expected deterioration.


Consumer confidence

Measures consumer sentiment in the Euro-zone nations. The figure is the result of Euro-zone consumer surveys personal finance, the job market, the likelihood of saving and expectations on the economy. High levels of consumer confidence bode well for the economy, indicating consumers are more likely to increase consumption spurring growth and potentially sparking inflation. Conversely, low consumer confidence levels suggest decreased spending. The figure is determined by the difference between positive and negative answers. Therefore a headline above zero indicates positive consumer confidence, while a negative number shows more negative answers.


Measures the change in the prices paid by domestic producers. Producer prices, also known as factory gate prices, are those charged by producers usually before retail, consumer markets. Increases in German Producer Prices act as an early indicator of inflation, as higher producer prices may be passed to consumers in the form of higher retail prices. Rising inflation is significant, especially coming from the largest economy in the Euro-zone. German inflation will contribute to Euro-zone figures, and may be checked by increasing interest rates.


CPI is the key gauge for inflation in the Euro Zone. Inflation, simply put, is a decline in the purchasing power of the Euro, where each Euro buys fewer goods and services due to higher consumer prices. The index tracks changes in the price of a basket of goods and services that a typical household might purchase. When the CPI is high, it indicates that significant inflationary pressures exist in Euro Zone economies. This puts pressure on the European Central Bank to raise interest rates. When CPI comes out lower than expected the ECB is expected to lower interest rates, or keep them lower, to encourage economic growth. As a rule, the Bank adjusts rates in order to keep Europe consumer price inflation in the 0 to 2 percent range.

Core CPI - Euro-zone

The CPI is also expressed as Core CPI, a similar measure that excludes energy and food in the basket of goods for the reason that items are highly volatile in price and can distort the CPI. Some market participants believe that Core CPI provides a better representation of inflation.


A German Firm, the Center for European Economic Research (ZEW), queries financial experts throughout Europe every month in order to make a medium-term forecast about Germany 's economic situation. They ask experts to evaluate the current situation and to predict the future direction of the economy. For all components of the survey, responses are restricted to positive, negative, or unchanged. This simple structure allows the survey to be quick and efficient in terms of turnaround time, as well as easy to understand and interpret.

German ZEW Indicator of Econ. Sentiment

Experts are asked for a qualitative assessment of the direction of inflation, interest rates, exchange rates and the stock market in the next six months. Thus the indicator provides a medium-term forecast for the German economy.


Industrial production

Measures the per volume change in output from mining, quarrying, manufacturing, energy and construction sectors in Germany. Industrial production is significant as a short term indicator of the strength of German industrial activity. High or rising Industrial Production figures suggest increased production and economic expansion, healthy for the Euro. However, uncontrolled levels of production and consumption can spark inflation. The report is only a preliminary estimate figure that does not move the markets much. The figure is released in headlines as a monthly percent change.


Measure of the total value of goods and services produced by Euro-zone nations. GDP is the most comprehensive measure of economic output and provides key insight as to the driving forces in the economy. Due to this report's lack of timeliness and because data on GDP components are available beforehand, the actual GDP figure is usually well anticipated. But given its overall significance GDP has the tendency to move the market upon release, especially if it upsets expectations. The GDP growth rate serves as a broad indicator for the health of Euro-zone economies. Robust GDP growth signals a heightened level of economic activity, which is generally positive. At the same time, economic expansion raises concerns about inflationary pressure, which can prompt the European Central Bank to increase interest rates. Consequently, positive GDP readings are generally bullish for a given currency, while negative readings are bearish.

ECB Interest rates

The European Central Bank's decision to increase, decrease, or maintain interest rates. Controlling interest rates is the key mechanism of monetary policy, and the ECB influences interest rates by first changing the "overnight rate" through the purchase or sale of government bonds. Lowering rates can spur economic growth but may incite inflationary pressures. On the other hand, increasing rates slows inflation but can stymie growth Because rate changes are usually well anticipated, the actual decision does not tend to impact the market. Market participants pay close attention to the press conference, hoping to clue in on the likelihood of further rate changes. Often, the language used in the press conference holds important signals to how ECB feels about inflation and the economy. The ECB President's language will be "hawkish" if he is pessimistic about the inflation outlook for the economy. In that case, the market sees a higher chance of future rate hike. Conversely, if the ECB President believes inflation is in check, his remarks will be "dovish," and the market perceives a future rate increase to be unlikely.