Small Business Owners Still Optimistic
The Index of Small Business Optimism fell 0.6 points to 105.3, sustaining the remarkable surge in optimism that started November 9, 2016, the day after the election. Three of the 10 Index components posted a gain, six declined, all by just a few points, and one was unchanged. It is encouraging that the Index has held at 105 for three months now, and not faded. (…) Optimism has not faded, but the enthusiasm has yet to be translated into an equally impressive increase in spending and hiring.
U.S. small-business owners are the most optimistic they have been since July 2007, according to the latest Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index. The overall index is now at 100, up 20 points since November and up 33 points from one year ago. This represents the largest quarterly increase in three years.
(…) Owners are usually more positive about the future than they are about present conditions, and that pattern holds in the latest update. However, the rise in the index from the fourth quarter of last year to the first quarter this year is mostly a function of owners’ increased optimism about current conditions, with the first-quarter score of 40 representing a 16-point jump since last quarter. This is as high as it has been since 2007, and is up nearly 70 points from its all-time low of -29 in the first quarter of 2010. The future expectations score of 60 is up four points from last quarter.
Owners’ overall ratings of their financial situation, cash flow and revenues improved this quarter:
- Improved revenue: 45% of small-business owners said their revenues increased a little or a lot in the past 12 months — up from 37% in November.
- Stronger cash flow: 64% indicated their cash flow over the past 12 months was very or somewhat good, up nine percentage points from 55% in November and the highest rating on this metric since the third quarter of 2007.
- Overall financial situation: 71% said their overall financial situation is very or somewhat good — up from 66% in November and the highest percentage for this question since the fourth quarter of 2007, when 72% indicated this.
U.S. Employment Trends Index Marches to All-Time High
The trend in the U.S. labor market has never been stronger. The Conference Board said March 13 that its index of employment trends reached a record 131.39 in February. All of the gauge’s eight individual indicators — including a decrease in applications for jobless benefits and a smaller share of Americans saying jobs are hard to come by — contributed to the advance. “It seems that higher business confidence is carrying over to hiring,” Gad Levanon, the group’s chief economist, said in a statement.
Mortgage rates rose for the 10th time in the past 11 days today, bringing them very close to highest levels in 3 years. You’d have to go back to April 30th, 2014 to see the average lender offering higher rates. The most common conventional 30yr fixed quote is easily up to 4.375% on top tier scenarios with a growing number of lenders moving up to 4.5%.
Buried in the latest issue of Bain & Company’s Global Private Equity Report are a few concerning nuggets for investors.
First, buyout firms are paying extraordinarily high prices for their targets, even higher than during the last boom in 2007: (…)
From David Rosenberg:
Stock buyback activity has declined recently, driven largely by the energy sector. Will we see significant improvements this year?
Source: Morgan Stanley, @MattGarrett3 via The Daily Shot