Small-Business Optimism in U.S. Rose in April to Six-Month High

Confidence among U.S. small businesses climbed in April to a six-month high as the outlook for the economy and sales brightened.

The National Federation of Independent Business’s optimism index increased to 92.1 last month from 89.5 in March. The 2.6 point gain was the biggest advance since October 2010. Four of the measure’s 10 components contributed to the improvement, the Washington-based group said.

The share of business owners expecting sales will increase climbed 8 points to 4 percent in April and the portion planning to create jobs increased. Those looking for business conditions to improve over the next six months jumped 13 points to minus 15 percent.

At the same time, measures of credit-condition expectations and capital-spending plans retreated. The gauge is less than two points above its average of 90.7 since the start of the recovery in June 2009.

“The sub-par recovery is still well in place for the small business sector,” William Dunkelberg, the group’s chief economist, said in a statement. “Nothing in the NFIB data suggests that the small business half of the economy is growing other than by an amount driven by population growth and associated new business starts now in excess of terminations.”

The NFIB report was based on a survey of 1,873 small-business owners through April 30. 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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