US: NFIB Small Business Optimism Index

Tue Feb 13 05:00:00 CST 2018

Consensus Consensus Range Actual Previous
level 105.5 105.0 to 107.0 106.9 104.9

Small business owners regained their high optimism in January following December's retreat from November's 13-year highs, with the NFIB Small Business Optimism Index rising 2.0 points 106.9. Leading the monthly index higher to beat consensus estimates was a 5-point gain to a net 32 percent in the view that now is a good time to expand, the highest level for this component in the history of the NFIB survey.

Six of the ten components of the index posted increases, with earnings trends registering the greatest improvement by jumping 11 points but remaining in negative territory and the second weakest component reading at a net minus 4 percent. Expectations that the economy will improve rose 4 points to 41 and plans to increase inventories also rose 4 points to 3. Current job openings rose 3 points to 34, as more than a third of small business owners reported job openings they could not fill. Rounding out the gainers were capital outlays, which rose 2 points to 29.

Two of the components did decline to keep the overall index from topping the 107.5 November level, including current inventories, which dropped 3 points to minus 5 as even fewer business owners felt that their stocks were too low. Also falling 3 points were expectations of higher real sales, though a solid net 25 percent of small business still expect improvement, which is one of the best readings for this component since 2007.

Market Consensus Before Announcement
Forecasters are calling for a bounce back in the small business optimism index which fell sharply in December on a falloff in confidence and plans to draw down inventories. Econoday's call for January is 105.5 vs December's 104.9.

The small business optimism index is compiled from a survey that is conducted each month by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) of its members. The index is a composite of 10 seasonally adjusted components based on the following questions: plans to increase employment, plans to make capital outlays, plans to increase inventories, expect economy to improve, expect real sales higher, current inventory, current job openings, expected credit conditions, now a good time to expand, and earnings trend.

Small businesses are responsible for a majority of new job creation and the NFIB focuses on this sector of the economy. The direction of the health of small businesses can portend changes in the stock market - especially small caps.