The list of Leading Economic Indicators is a monthly index of ten selected societal signs that are intended to provide an accurate prediction of economic activity over a future period of roughly six to nine months. Formerly, the indicators were compiled by the United States Department of Commerce, but they are now released privately.
These indicators cover a broad scope of the financial picture, ranging from unemployment to industry, and from construction to the stock exchange. For example, the Leading Economic Indicators list tracks the number of initial jobless claims in the United States. It also measures the amount of new manufacturing orders for capital goods, counting them as long as they are not related to the Department of Defense. The list also includes the number of building permits authorized, and the current level of the S&P 500 market index.
From these indicators, and others like them, the economic climate and growth for the coming half year is estimated.