ISM Manufacturing Index
But manufacturing is considered to be the canary in the economic coal mine, because slowdowns and recessions tend to show up there first. That means various readings on activities and orders can offer insight into the economy on a directional basis.
The Institute for Supply Management surveys more than 300 manufacturers every month on conditions ranging from employment to new orders to inventories. Readings above 50 indicate expansion — and give hope that the economy will follow. With the latest reading at 49 — indicating contraction — a pick up is likely in order to for the Fed to feel comfortable about tapering.