Every time I think I'm aware of all of the economic indicators available, I find a new one. This time it's the Philadelphia Federal Reserve's Aruoba-Diebold-Scotti Business Conditions Index, which was featured in this WSJ article on Tuesday:
"This index, which we will henceforth refer to as the ADS, takes in a variety of economic data, mashes it all together and comes out with an up-to-the-minute reading on the economy at least once a week. It saves common investors like us a lot of hard work trying to grapple with the individual pieces. The input data includes a composite of quarterly output data, unemployment indicators, industrial production, personal income less transfer payments, manufacturing/trade sales and gross-domestic-product growth.
The economic whizzes at the Philly Fed use a filter to help smooth the data so that the impact of less-frequent data, such as the GDP growth figures, blends seamlessly with more-frequent data, such as weekly new claims for unemployment insurance. The ADS looks at the entire economy, not just the Philly Fed's district. Additionally, because the ADS is updated so frequently, it's a real-time read on the economy that analysts don't have to wait a long time for, unlike the quarterly read on GDP."