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Small-Business Optimism in U.S. Falls as Job Creation Plans Wane

Confidence among U.S. small businesses fell in March for the first time in four months as job creation plans soured.

The National Federation of Independent Business’s optimism index dropped to 89.5 last month from 90.8 in February. Six of the measure’s 10 components contributed to the decline, the Washington-based group said.

The share of business owners planning to create jobs dropped 4 points to zero in March at the same time sales expectations deteriorated, the data showed. The figures follow a Labor Department report last week that showed U.S. employers boosted payrolls by 88,000 in March, the smallest gain in nine months.

“Virtually no owners think the current period is a good time to expand,” William Dunkelberg, the group’s chief economist, said in a statement. “There are no plans to create new jobs in the coming months. It appears there will be little growth coming from the small business half of the economy.”

The NFIB report was based on a survey of 759 small-business owners through March 28. Small companies represent more than 99 percent of all U.S employers, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. A small business is defined as an independent enterprise with no more than 500 employees.

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