I was pretty tired this weekend, and away the weekend before that, but now I'm back with a post that I hope was worth the wait.
The Alberta provincial government has a very useful online portal called the Alberta Economic Dashboard. (It's been around for at least a couple of years). It provides a bunch of economic indicators for the province in one convenient place, including motor vehicle sales, housing starts, business incorporations, and employment numbers. Even better, it shows year-over-year changes to put the data in context. Every province would benefit from a similar "dashboard" in my opinion.
To round this post out, here are some other economic indicators that are handy to check from time to time. My recommendation is to expand any graphs to show at least a month or a year to get a sense of meaningful trends. To understand commodity prices, note that they use a defined basis (e.g. a specified quantity available at a certain place) to facilitate comparisons. So there is not one single price of oil, but there is a price for West Texas Intermediate.
- Canadian dollar equivalent in US dollars
- Price of Bitcoin
- Prices of wheat, corn, and rice—in a previous post I pointed out that the price of wheat was over 800 cents per bushel in 2011 during the social unrest of the Arab Spring.
- Prices of cattle and other agricultural commodities—including coffee, cocoa, orange juice, and ethanol
- Price of oil and natural gas
- Bond rates (compare the different countries shown and note the high rates for Greece; higher yields mean that the debt is seen as more risky, and costs the government in question more for interest payments)
- Price of copper (watch out for copper thieves when it gets high enough)
- Stock indexes for important Canadian industrial sectors (comprising materials such as forest products and minerals, energy, and finance)
- S&P / TSX (the weighted composite value of the most significant publicly-traded companies on the Toronto Stock Exchange)
- Interest rates in Canada
- Unemployment rate and labour force participation
- Freight tonnage (the quantity of materials moved to processing and finished products moved to market can be seen as a proxy for overall amount of economic activity)
- Statistics on Residential Construction in Canada such as housing starts and new housing price index values
- Miscellaneous general indicators such as GDP and trade balance
Disclaimer: I've never studied this formally, and this is not investment advice.