ATB Business and Economy Indexes end year on upswing

EDMONTON, Dec. 20, 2016 /CNW/ - ATB Financial's quarterly check on optimism among Alberta's small and mid-sized business enterprises (SMEs) has revealed a significant uptick as the New Year approaches.

The ATB Business Index, which measures business owners' confidence in their own operations, climbed to 48.5—its highest level in 18 months—up from 43.4 three months earlier. One year ago, the ATB Business Index was at 40.9. A score above 50 suggests more business owners feel their own operations will be better off in six months than those who feel they'll be worse off.

The ATB Economy Index, which measures business owners' optimism in the Alberta economy, is now at 36.1, up six and a half points from the previous survey. The ATB Economy Index is also at its highest level in a year and a half. Nine months ago, the ATB Economy Index bottomed out at 19.2. A score above 50 suggests more business owners are optimistic about the Alberta economy than those who are pessimistic.

"Three and four years ago, both indexes were in the 60s and 70s, so there's still a huge difference in relative optimism among Alberta businesses," said Teresa Clouston, ATB's Executive Vice-President, Business & Agriculture. "Many Alberta businesses are still going through a tough time. But we are seeing a trend in a positive direction."

SMEs in the energy business are more optimistic about their own operations than any other industry in Alberta. The ATB Business Index among energy operations rose sharply to 62.2 from 44.5 three months earlier. It's the most optimistic score for energy companies in two years.

"What's interesting is that this survey was completed before the recent agreement announced by OPEC to cut production," added Clouston. "As the energy landscape continues to stabilize, I'll be curious to see what the industry's business index number will be in our next survey."

The ATB Business Index among energy firms had reached as high as 83.3 in the first quarter of 2014 and as low as 34.4 in the third quarter of 2015.

The ATB Business Beat survey is commissioned by ATB Financial and conducted by NRG Research Group. The survey includes 300 randomly selected small- to medium-sized businesses in Alberta every three months. The most recent survey was conducted from November 7-18, 2016, and has a margin of error of +/- 5.8 per cent. Complete results of the November survey will be released in January's edition of the ATB Business Beat.

SOURCE ATB Financial

For further information: or interview requests, please contact: Barry Strader, Corporate Reporter, ATB Financial, 780-495-1343 (office), 780-886-4398 (mobile), bstrader@atb.com

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