Business Week (03/13/12) Shobhana Chandra
The National Federation of Independent Business reports its optimism index increased to 94.3, the best reading since February 2011 and the sixth consecutive monthly gain, from 93.9 in January. The pickup in confidence was broad-based as more small companies also said they are increasing wages, anticipating better sales, and planning to grow inventories. The results are “good news for economy watchers,” says William Dunkelberg, the group’s chief economist. Small businesses are “mostly headed in the right direction, just at a glacial pace.” Measures on hiring and investment were a bit less promising. The small-business gauge of plans to add to payrolls dropped one point to net 4%, and those intending to make capital purchases over the next three to six months fell a point, the first decline in five months, to net 23%.