How to use an Economic Calendar?
In the unpredictable world of Forex, to know why the market is moving in a certain way and be able to anticipate these moves is one of the major keys for successful Forex trading. Although the reaction of the market to the world events fluctuates daily, experienced traders try to analyze future economic events in order to foresee currency movements. Trader needs to stay way ahead of event announcements and act accordingly so that by the time an announcement is made, he/she has already priced the value of their currency pair. On the whole, the biggest market-moving events tend to be the release of key economic data such as the US non-farm payroll number.
The easiest way to manage the information from announcements is to follow an Economic Calendar. Through using this efficient economic tool, you can track key indicators which will present you where the market is headed and what may impact your currency movements. The knowledge of future economic and political indicators and coming events is not only beneficial, but crucial factor for a good trader.
To make the picture clearer, let’s assume that the Bank of England and the European Central Bank plan to meet later next month to discuss the policy of interest rates. You can forecast whether the rate will be raised or lowered through the knowledge of this meeting. An experienced trader will take long or short positions in both GBP/USD and EUR/USD respectively. If however interest rates are expected to remain the same, traders will check other factors out that might affect the direction of a currency pair.
There are alternative ways to keep an economic calendar. You can search for main indicators online and create your own calendar by inputting the information manually. Otherwise, there are many online calendar platforms provided by different brokers or financial organizations that update indicators automatically and will endow you with all necessary information. It is also possible to copy the indicators from the calendar and paste the whole list of them into a document, highlight important events and delete the ones you consider to be less important.
After you have obtained the information, inputting it in your calendar and you are keeping track, you need to act. You notice from your calendar that an announcement date is approaching. What is to follow is that a consensus will be forecast as to what to expect from said announcement. As a forex trader you will begin to price the new data and adjust your trades accordingly.
What Indicators are used in Economic Calendar?
The US dollar accounts for a large proportion of global currency trades and has the biggest influence on currency prices.
The most important indicator is GDP (Gross Domestic Product) as this measures the sum of all goods and services in a country. Industrial production measures how much is produced in a nation’s factories, mines, or utilities. PMI (Purchasing Manager’s Index) monitors manufacturing conditions.
Other two important indicators to measure the inflation are the Producer Price Index (PPI) and Consumer Price Index (CPI), which measure the average prices for sellers and buyers.
Here is the list of the most important economic indicators that can be found from the Economic Calendar:
Consumer Confidence Index (CCI)
Released: 10am EST Last Tuesday of each month
This survey of over 5,000 US households intends to show the financial health, spending power, and confidence of the average American consumer. It consist of three headline figures – the Index of Consumer Sentiment, which reflects how people currently feel, Current Economic Conditions, which reflects how people feel the economy is going, and the Index of Consumer Expectations, which reflects how they think the economy will be in six months time. Despite the subjectivity of this survey, it can be a big market mover on the forex markets, because the confidence of consumers is key to the economic performance of a country as a whole, and therefore directly affects the value of its currency.
Consumer Credit Report
Released: 3pm EST, About five weeks after month’s end
This monthly Fed report estimates changes in the dollar amounts of outstanding unsecured loans to individuals, which tend to be used to purchase consumer goods. It’s not a big market mover, but it can be a good indicator of the future spending levels of consumers, and can therefore be used to inform traders of the positions they should take when trading the Personal Consumption and Retail Sales reports.
Consumer Price Index (CPI)
Released: 8.30, Monthly, approximately mid-month
This is the main benchmark for inflation in the US economy, covering the prices across a basket of commonly bought consumer goods and services such as groceries and haircuts. It is perhaps the most important economic indicator there is, because it is always taken into account in Fed decisions, and because it is used to make adjustments to cash flow mechanisms such as pensions, Medicare, and cost of living adjustments to insurance policies.
Durable Goods Report
Released: 8.30am EST On or around the 20th of each month (advance release; revised release about six weeks after period end with Factory Orders)
The Durable Goods Report, which is released by the US census bureau, consists of data on new orders from thousands of manufacturers of durable goods, which are higher-priced goods with a useful life of over three years such as cars, consumer electronics, and turbines. Rises in this number usually occur ahead of general economic expansion, although sample error can affect the figure considerably so it is best to consider a moving average that takes into account previous releases when evaluating these results.
Employee Cost Index (ECI)
Released: 8.30am, last Thursday of April, July, November and January
The Employment Cost Index (ECI) is a quarterly report that reflects changes in wages, bonuses, and benefits from the previous quarter on a per-hour basis. Because employee costs are such a large part of corporate expenditure, they will often be reflected in the price of goods and services. Therefore, it can be used to gain an insight into future inflation trends, and can be a major market mover if it deviates from analysts’ estimates.
Employment Situation Report
Released: 8.30am EST, First Friday of the month
This broad-based indicator, released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), consists of two surveys. The “establishment survey”, which samples over 400,000 businesses, presents important statistics such as non-farm payrolls, hours worked, and hourly earnings. The “household survey” samples over 60,000 households to produce a figure representing the total number of individuals out of work, from which the national unemployment rate is derived. As we stated in yesterday’s article, the non-farm payrolls figure is one of the most hotly anticipated and widely traded indicators among forex traders. The other most eagerly-awaited number here is the unemployment figures from the household report, which are considered a lagging indicator of the health of the economy. The report as a whole is perhaps the most influential in determining Fed policy, and if the figures surprise analysts, it can move markets in a very dramatic way.
Existing Home Sales
Release Date: 8.30am EST Fourth week of the month
This report from the National Association of Realtors shows the number of existing (as opposed to new-build) homes that were closed during the month, the average selling price, and the length of time it is currently taking to sell off the entire housing inventory. These figures represent the aggregate demand among consumers for housing. This report, when used in conjunction with the Housing Starts report, can be a good leading indicator for the general health of the economy.
Factory Orders Report
Released: 8.30am EST, First week of the month
This report combines the Durable Goods Report with information about non-durable goods sales such as food and clothing. It is less vague than the Durable Goods report, but because much of the information is already known, it doesn’t tend to move the market much upon its release, although the inclusion of forward-looking data such as inventory and new orders makes it an important leading indicator for forecasting GDP.
Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
Released: 8.30am EST – advance release: four weeks after quarter ends; Final release: three months after quarter ends
This is the most widely quoted and most influential economic indicator there is, representing the market value of all goods and services produced by the economy of the country being measured on a quarterly basis. While the results are conclusive, and form a vital part of any analysis of economic trends, it is not very timely, with much of the information contained within the report already being known ahead of its release. Nonetheless, it is a figure that every trader should have a deep understanding of if they are to be successful in analyzing the markets.
Released: 8.30am EST, On or around the 17th of the month
This report is the result of a survey of homebuilders across the US that measures the amount of housing starts, which are considered the laying of foundations for new homes, and approved building permits. These are leading indicators for the health of the construction industry and the economy as a whole, and while the report rarely sends shockwaves around the markets, the figures are useful for estimating other consumer-based indicators, as people buying new homes also tend to spend money on other consumer goods such as furniture and appliances.
Released: 9.15 EST On or around the 16th of the month
This Fed report provides the monthly raw volume of goods produced by industrial firms such as factories, mines and electric utilities in the US, as well as newspaper, periodical and book publishing. It is useful as a leading indicator for inflation as industry is the first to feel supply shortages for basic materials, which drive up prices all the way down the supply chain. While the shift away from industrial production towards a service economy in the West means that the relevance of this figure is declining, it is often one of the first indicators of an inflection point in the trajectory of the economy as a whole.
Jobless Claims Report
A rate of 42 or above indicates that the GDP is likely to expand, whereas a rating below this indicates that a recession may be on the way. It is a very timely leading indicator for GDP and BLS reports, particularly when used in conjunction with more data-driven indicators such as the PPI and GDP or the ISM Non-Manufacturing Report.
Retail Sales Report
Released: 8.30am EST on or around the 13th of the month
This is one of the most keenly anticipated numbers among economists and investors, tracking the dollar value of merchandise sold within the retail trade, sampling both fixed point-of-sale and non-store retailers of all sizes. There are two headline figures here, the total sales figure (and percentage change from the previous month), and the “ex-autos” figure, which discounts auto sales, which can skew the overall figure due to the high prices and historical seasonality. It is a good predictor of inflationary pressure, and has a large bearing on Fed policy, and it can therefore be a big market mover, particularly if it differs greatly from analysts’ estimates.
Trade Balance Report
Released: 8.30am EST around the 19th of the month
This is an important one for forex traders, as it is widely used by investors and policy makers to determine the health of the US economy and its relationship with the rest of the world. The headline figure here is the nominal trade deficit, which represents the current dollar value of U.S. exports minus imports. The US has run a trade deficit for over 20 years now, and this is not necessarily a bad thing as long as the deficit is balanced by an equal dollar amount of foreign investment in U.S. assets – mainly treasuries. This means that, when interest rates are low, US debt becomes less attractive, causing the value of the dollar to drop in comparison with other currencies. If the data in the Trade Balances report is markedly different to previous reports, it can move the markets in a profound way. While the report is notoriously difficult to estimate, partly due to the high volatility of oil prices, it can give valuable clues as to future changes to GDP that are not explained by internal consumption and production.
3. Why Economic Calendar is needed for traders?
Using an economic calendar allows you to know about future global events, news, announcements and follow trends. You can make money when you have advanced information and you can predict the direction a currency pair is going. The more you know and understand about the factors affecting the Forex market, the better chance you have of gaining the profit.
To be highly effective in Forex trading, you have to consider all economic and political factors across your currency pairs and go even further by keeping the bigger picture in mind. Indicators may arise from economies whose currency you’re not trading in but may affect those that you are trading. The economic calendar provides the trader with all important aspects.
While the effect of economic indicators on prices can be unpredictable, it is still a significant value having an idea of how you might generally expect the market to react, so that if it contradicts this, you can examine the reasons why it might have done so and make right trading decisions.