Economics and finance are interrelated, informing and influencing each other. Investors care about economic data because they also influence the markets to a great degree. It’s important for investors to avoid “either/or” arguments regarding economics and finance; both are important and have valid applications.
In general, the focus of economics—especially macroeconomics—tends to be a bigger picture in nature, such as how a country, region, or market is performing. Economics also can focus on public policy, while the focus of finance is more individual, company- or industry-specific.
Microeconomics explains what to expect if certain conditions change on the industry, firm, or individual level. If a manufacturer raises the prices of cars, microeconomics says consumers will tend to buy fewer than before. If a major copper mine collapses in South America, the price of copper will tend to increase, because supply is restricted.
Finance also focuses on how companies and investors evaluate risk and return. Historically, economics has been more theoretical and finance more practical, but in the last 20 years, the distinction has become much less pronounced.