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Finance Dictionary and Glossary of Investment Terms
A measurable economic factor that changes before the economy starts to follow a particular pattern or trend. Leading indicators are used to predict changes in the economy, but are not always accurate.
An economic indicator that changes before the economy has changed. Examples of leading indicators include production workweek, building permits, unemployment insurance claims, money supply, inventory changes, and stock prices. The Fed watches many of these indicators as it decides what to do about interest rates. There are also coincident indicators, which change about the same time as the overall economy, and lagging indicators, which change after the overall economy, but these are of minimal use as predictive tools.