More than a few people who follow me on Twitter have been asking about what all the stuff is in one particular Tweet that I do daily, more for my own benefit to see where market indicators are. Here’s your morning tweet cheat sheet.

Sample:
DJIA +146 VIX 42.28 TED 95bps 3mo LIBOR 1.17 1mo OIS 20bps MSCI +1.53% BDI -2.54% 30yr 4.85% BCF 51.39 GLD 919.90 RR 12.30

DJIA: Dow Jones Industrial Averages futures for the day, based on Bloomberg after-hours market data. Gives an idea of what the market sentiment will be at the start of trading, typically due to Asian and European market movements.

Updated: At the recommendation of Mike LaLonde, I’m throwing the S&P 500 Futures (SPX) in right after the DJIA. The S&P 500 is a measure of a broad range of companies, giving a bigger picture of market sentiment.

VIX: Chicago Board of Options Exchange Volatility Index, based on Yahoo Finance data. The VIX is considered by some to be a leading indicator of how crazy the market is, based on S&P futures. A high VIX number (above 20) indicates that something’s going on in the market.

TED Spread: The difference between Treasuries and Eurodollars, typically T-bills and LIBOR (London Inter Bank Offering Rate), as measured by Bloomberg. A big TED spread indicates banks don’t trust each other and would rather borrow from the government.

3mo LIBOR: The interest rate for 3-month LIBOR, as measured by Bloomberg. This is the rate banks charge each other in London for borrowing money and is a good non-government measure of interest rates.

1mo OIS: 1 month overnight index swap, an interest rate that measures risk and liquidity in the money market, as measured by Bloomberg. A higher OIS indicates less cash in the system as banks hoard cash. A lower OIS indicates banks are willing to lend more freely.

MSCI: A stock market index of world stocks (MSCI used to stand for Morgan Stanley Capital Int’l), as measured by Bloomberg. This is an index containing stocks from 23 countries, and tells you how the world market is doing.

BDI: Baltic Dry Index, as measured by Bloomberg. This is a daily average of the price to ship raw dry materials, and is a good current indicator of economic health for goods and services. The reason why is that it costs money to put stuff on a boat and ship it – so if BDI is low, it means producers and retailers aren’t shipping stuff and the economy is unwell. A high BDI means that people are paying real money to ship stuff.

30yr: The average 30 year fixed mortgage interest rate. Since housing is such a vital component of the economy, seeing what mortgage rates are doing is useful for figuring out how housing is likely to be doing.

Updated: At the recommendation of economist Maria Simos, I’m adding BCF and GLD.

BCF: Brent Crude Futures, as measured by Bloomberg. This is the price of barrel of Brent crude oil, which gives a sense of where energy costs will go based on the source product. Neat trick – take the price of a barrel of oil and divide by 25, and you often get very close to the retail price of a gallon of gasoline.

GLD: Gold 100 oz futures, as measured by Bloomberg. Gold is the, well, gold standard, of a third party measurement against inflation. As countries inflate or deflate their currencies, the price of gold goes up or down.

Updated again: I’m adding RR: Rough Rice futures, Chicago Board of Trade. Why? Most of the planet eats the stuff, far more than other grains. When rice prices are high, you’re talking about a global increase in prices on the consumer. i was debating corn or rice, but chose rice because it’s purely a food stock, whereas corn has additional deviations due to things like ethanol.

Any one of these indicators has economic implications, but combined, I think they’re a good quick snapshot of different parts of the economy and how things are going on a day to day basis in a broader perspective than just the stock market.

What public leading economic indicators do you think are important?

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