Economic indicators are measurements used to gauge the strength or weakness of various components of the national economy.
They are almost always trailing indicators, meaning they look back at past activity. Economists and market analysts often attempt to predict the results of certain key indicators before they are released.
For example, economists try to anticipate what the unemployment situation is and how it is changing. Information on new jobs, unemployment filings and so on are important indicators when measuring the economy's health.
How the estimates differ from what is actually reported can move the stock market up or down. If the market is expecting unemployment to drop, but the indicator comes in higher than anticipated, the stock market may react negatively.
One of the problems investors in the stock market face is keep up with the key indicators that may affect the stocks they own.
There is a handy source of information on economic indicators in the form of a calendar listing when reports will be issued.
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York publishes this resource on its Web site. Each month, the bank lists the dates of upcoming announcement and links to the actual data.
Many of the information sources offer an explanation of the indicator and some historical readings.
You can look at the current, previous and next month's calendars. Bookmark this helpful site for future reference.