• Small-Business Index Improves for First Time in Three Months

Small-Business Index Improves for First Time in Three Months

Wednesday February 10, 2010

Confidence among U.S. small businesses increased in January for the first time in three months as the outlook for sales improved, the National Federation of Independent Business reported.

The group’s optimism index gauge rose to 89.3, the highest level in 16 months, from 88 in December, Bloomberg reported.

The advance left the measure close to the 2009 low of 81 reached in March, which was second only to a 1980 reading as the lowest on record, Bloomberg said.

“Optimism has clearly stalled in spite of the improvements in the economy in the second half of 2009,” William Dunkelberg, chief economist at the NFIB, said in a statement.

Three of 10 companies surveyed said a lack of sales remained their biggest concern even as the demand outlook turned positive for the first time since January 2008, the month after the recession began, Bloomberg reported.

A majority of small businesses expect profit and employment to decline, showing why the Obama administration has announced new plans aimed at providing credit and tax breaks to small firms, Bloomberg said.

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