TORONTO, March 7, 2012 /CNW/ - According to the latest Business Barometer® Index from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), small business confidence has risen to 66.0 in the last month—its sixth-consecutive monthly increase. The Index, however, still has a few points to make up before re-establishing the high levels seen this time last year.
"Small businesses saw a little more sunshine in February," remarked Ted Mallet, chief economist and vice-president for CFIB. "Better conditions in Ontario and the Maritimes, that were once held back by European and US economic worries, appear to be driving the gains in sentiment."
Businesses in Western Canada are generally the most optimistic with Alberta (72.3) and Saskatchewan (70.1) again at the top of the list. However, February also saw meaningful gains in optimism in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Ontario. Unfortunately BC's confidence fell last month and PEI and Newfoundland & Labrador are following the same direction.
Optimism weakened in construction and manufacturing, but it was more than offset by big improvements in retail and hospitality, suggesting that consumers are in a positive frame of mind. Owners in the natural resources and the business services sector are the most upbeat.
"For the first time on record agriculture makes it into the top-three, in a tie with financial services," said Mallett. "Overall, there is a very little gap between the most- and the least-optimistic business owners, by sector, which is a welcome sign of general economic stability."
"New orders levels are a little slower in February, on account of weaker manufacturing and construction sentiment, however, these leading indicators, including overtime levels and accounts receivables, remain much higher compared to recessionary levels," concluded Mallett.
Measured on a scale between 0 and 100, an index level above 50 means owners expecting their businesses' performance to be stronger in the next year outnumber those expecting weaker performance. According to past results, index levels normally range between 65 and 75 when the economy is growing. The February 2012 findings are based on 877 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.3 per cent 19 times in 20.
As Canada's largest association of small- and medium-sized businesses, CFIB is Powered by Entrepreneurs™. Established in 1971, CFIB takes direction from more than 108,000 members in every sector nationwide, giving independent business a strong and influential voice at all levels of government and helping to grow the economy.
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For more information or to arrange an interview with Ted Mallett, contact Meghan Carrington or Gisele Lumsden at 416 222-8022 or email firstname.lastname@example.org