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The New Economic Indicators

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This story appears in the March 2009 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Want to know When the economy will improve? You can rely on the usual economic forecasts or look to other more offbeat indicators, such as sales figures at key retailers or new public-opinion polls.

The traditional bellwether for this type of forecasting is the index of leading U.S. economic indicators--an amalgam of trends derived from 10 statistics, including manufacturers' orders, supplier deliveries, unemployment claims, stock prices and consumer expectations. But here's a shortcut: Just look at Wal-Mart, Starbucks and FedEx.

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