Optimism Is Soaring For Small Business Owners

The latest NFIB Small Business Survey was a blow out report if there ever was one. Small business optimism increased to 105.8 in December from 98.4 in November and well above expectations of 99.5. The headline is at the highest level since 2004 and the one month increase is the largest on record. The surge in optimism was focused on expectations or outlook rather than on current business condition improvements. The outlook for general business conditions increased from 12% to 50%, which is the highest level since 2003. The 1-month change of 38 percentage points is by far the largest increase going back to 1986. The outlook for expansion also surged by the largest 1-month increase on record to the highest level since 2005. Actual sales changes only modestly improved from -8% to -7% while once again, sales expectations surged higher. Job openings actually declined slightly from 31% to 29%. When this report is combined with the Consumer Confidence report released at the end of December, it is clear that expectations have surged higher and this optimism is currently be priced into markets. Now we just need to see the follow through from the hard data.