US Small Business Trend and Confidence

Confidence among the U.S. small businesses remained nearly unchanged in January this year, a sign that the U.S. economy would continue to crawl at a slow and weak pace, a leading industry association reported on Tuesday.

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) said its Small-Business Optimism Index increased by 0.1 points to 93.9 from December 2011. While the increase marked the fifth consecutive month of improvement, the reading from January 2011 was higher and indicated no net gain for the past year.

The index comprised ten components, among which the one gauging expectations for better business conditions six months from now increased five points and yet more small business owners expected the economy not to improve. In addition, the component measure net share of owners planning to increase inventories declined five points to minus 3 percent.

The index averaged 88.6 in the 18-month recession that ended in June 2009, and 100.7 in the six years before the recession began in December 2007.

The fresh figure showed that optimism remained at recession levels, noted the association, adding that there was no comforting future.

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