Confidence among SMEs inches up in November

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Small business optimism in Canada is showing signs of improvement, according to the latest Business Barometer survey, released today by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

Following a small gain in October, the monthly index measuring small business optimism edged up another 2.0 points this month to 59.3 (out of 100).

“After a summer of discontent, it looks like we’re seeing a turnaround in confidence,” said Ted Mallett, Chief Economist at CFIB. “And, while we’re still very far off from the confidence levels we saw earlier in the year, there are some positive signs heading into the final month of the calendar year. In particular, there are improvements in both wage and capital spending plans.”

Provincial results were mixed: increasing confidence in Ontario (58.3), Alberta (56.2), Prince Edward Island (55.8) and Newfoundland and Labrador (49.0) were enough to offset lower optimism in the other provinces.

Quebec (65.4) businesses remain the most optimistic in the country, despite its index losing points for the third month in a row. British Columbia (60.8) and Nova Scotia (59.9) lost ground as well, but indexes there remain just above the national average.

Sentiment in Manitoba (55.3) and Saskatchewan (52.3) shows only a minor downgrade from October results, while New Brunswick (51.4) experienced a more dramatic drop.

As far as optimism by industry sector, sentiment dropped in the professional services and retail industries but we continue to see increased confidence among small business owners in both the natural resource and agriculture sectors.

“Most industry sectors continue to show lackluster confidence,” added Mallett. “Across all industries, businesses remain most concerned by rising taxes, energy and wage costs.”

On a scale between 0 and 100, an index above 50 means owners expecting their business’ performance to be stronger in the next year outnumber those expecting weaker performance. One normally sees an index level of between 65 and 70 when the economy is growing at its potential.

Transcontinental Media G.P.