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Economy

Economic Data (USA)

Friday, April 28, 2017

Consumer Sentiment: Final Result for April 2017

The University of Michigan's Index of Consumer Sentiment (ICS) - Final Result for April 2017 was released today:

Predicted: 98.0
Actual: 97.0

  • Change from Last Month: +0.1032%
  • Change from 12 Months Ago: +8.989%

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From today's report:

"...Consumer sentiment continued to travel along the high plateau established following Trump's election, with only minor deviations from its five month average of 97.4. There was widespread agreement among consumers on their very positive assessments of the current state of the economy as well as widespread disagreement on future economic prospects. Although the partisan divide has slightly narrowed in recent months, it still reflects a very pessimistic economic outlook among Democrats and a very optimistic outlook among Republicans. The partisan divide on the Expectations Index was 51.0 points in April (61.4 vs. 112.4), down from last month's 63.1 (59.4 vs. 122.5), with Republicans moderating their optimism more than Democrats reduced their pessimism. Selective perception of news is the driving force behind the partisan divide. Favorable economic developments were cited by nearly all Republicans in April, while three-quarters of Democrats reported hearing negative news about the economy. It is of some interest to note that the Expectations Index among self-identified Independents, who may be less susceptible to traditional political ideologies, rose to a very favorable 91.3 in April, up from March's 85.8 and well above the pre-election October reading of 73.1. The level of optimism among Independents, who account for 42% of all consumers, points toward continued growth in consumer spending in 2017 at about a 2.5% pace. Nonetheless, the partisan extremes will continue to add uncertainty and instability to consumer spending during the year ahead..."

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The ICS is derived from the following five survey questions:

  1. "We are interested in how people are getting along financially these days. Would you say that you (and your family living there) are better off or worse off financially than you were a year ago?"


  2. "Now looking ahead, do you think that a year from now you (and your family living there) will be better off financially, or worse off, or just about the same as now?"


  3. "Now turning to business conditions in the country as a whole, do you think that during the next twelve months we'll have good times financially, or bad times, or what?"


  4. "Looking ahead, which would you say is more likely: that in the country as a whole we'll have continuous good times during the next five years or so, or that we will have periods of widespread unemployment or depression, or what?"


  5. "About the big things people buy for their homes, such as furniture, a refrigerator, stove, television, and things like that. Generally speaking, do you think now is a good or bad time for people to buy major household items?"

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The ICS uses a 1966 baseline, i.e. for 1966, the ICS = 100. So any number that is below the 1966 baseline of 100 means that the folks who were polled recently aren't as optimistic about the U.S. economy as the sample that was polled back in 1966.

The ICS is similar to the Consumer Confidence Index in that they both measure consumer attitudes and offer valuable insight into consumer spending.

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The "predicted" figure is what economists were expecting, while the "actual" is the true or real figure.

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Last month's final ICS reading was 96.9.


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Gross Domestic Product (GDP) First Estimate for Q1, 2017

The U.S. Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) "advance" (first estimate) report for the first quarter of 2017 was released this morning by the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA):

Predicted: +1.1%
Actual: +0.7%

The yellow-highlighted figure represents the quarter-to-quarter change in real gross domestic product for the United States.

The GDP is the broadest measure of economic activity in the entire United States, covering all sectors of the economy.

The "advance" estimate is based on data that are subject to future revision.

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Gross Domestic Product (GDP) - Q1 2017 - First Estimate
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) - Q1 2017 - First Estimate

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Personal Consumption Expenditures (a.k.a. Consumer Spending)

Predicted: +0.7%
Actual: +0.3%

The blue-highlighted figure above represents the quarter-to-quarter change in personal consumption expenditures, also known as consumer spending.

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  • On May 26, 2017, the Commerce Department will release a "preliminary" GDP report for Q1 2017, which will contain a second estimate (more accurate data.)

  • On June 29, 2017, a "final" GDP report will be released by the BEA, which will contain the government's best estimates for Q1 2017.

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Thursday, April 27, 2017

New Unemployment Insurance Claims for The Week of April 22, 2017

Earlier today, the Labor Department released its weekly report on New Jobless Insurance Claims for the week that ended on  April 22, 2017:

Predicted: 244,000
Actual: 257,000

The yellow-highlighted figure represents the number of first-time claims for unemployment benefits for the entire United States. The "predicted" figure is what economists were expecting, while the "actual" is the true or real figure.

  • Previous Week (revised): 243,000
  • 4-Week Moving Average: 242,250
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Durable Goods Orders During March 2017

The Durable Goods Orders report for March 2017 was released by the Commerce Department this morning:

Predicted: +1.1%
Actual: +0.7%

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  • Previous month, revised: +2.3%

  • Change from 12 months previous: +5.8%
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The yellow-highlighted figure represents the month-to-month change in orders for durable or hard goods for immediate or future delivery from U.S. manufacturers. Examples of durable goods: cars, airplanes, computers, furniture -- items that are built to last at least three years.

The "predicted" figure is what economists were expecting, while the "actual" is the true or real figure. The Durable Goods Orders report is produced by the Commerce Department.

Click here to view the full Commerce Department report (PDF).

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Crude Oil Inventories Report for Week of April 21, 2017

The U.S. Crude Oil Inventories report for the week that ended on April 21, 2017 was released this morning:

Weekly Change: -3,600,000 Barrels

Yearly Change: +19,400,000 Barrels

Current U.S. Crude Oil Stocks: 528,700,000 Barrels

Diminishing crude oil inventories often translate to higher crude oil prices (and vice versa), but not always.

The report is produced by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) for April 2017

The Consumer Confidence Index® (CCI) for this month (April 2017) was released by The Conference Board® this morning:

Predicted: 123.1
Actual: 120.3

The "predicted" figure is what economists were expecting, while the "actual" is the true or real figure.

From Today's Report:

"...'Consumer confidence declined in April after increasing sharply over the past two months, but still remains at strong levels,' said Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. 'Consumers assessed current business conditions and, to a lesser extent, the labor market less favorably than in March. Looking ahead, consumers were somewhat less optimistic about the short-term outlook for business conditions, employment and income prospects. Despite April’s decline, consumers remain confident that the economy will continue to expand in the months ahead.'..."

Every month, The Conference Board sends a questionnaire to 5,000 U.S. households. Survey participants are polled about their feelings regarding the U.S. economy, current and future, and about their own fiscal circumstances. On average, 3,500 participants complete and return the 5-question survey.

The baseline "100" score for the CCI is associated with 1985 survey data.

When consumers feel good about the economy, they tend to do more spending, and vice versa.

Based in New York City, The Conference Board is a private, not-for-profit organization with a mission to, "create and disseminate knowledge about management and the marketplace to help businesses strengthen their performance and better serve society."

The CCI is usually released on the last Tuesday of the month.

Last month, the CCI was 124.9 (revised.)

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New Home Sales During March 2017

The March 2017 New Home Sales report was released by the Commerce Department this morning:

Predicted: 588,000
Actual New Home Sales: 621,000

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Change from One Month Previous: +5.8%

Change from One Year Previous: +15.6%

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Median Price for a New Home during March: $315,100

Average Price for a New Home during March: $388,200


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Chart: Cost of A Newly Built Home, USA - March 2017
Chart: Cost of A Newly Built Home, USA - March 2017

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Compiled jointly by the U.S. Commerce Department and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the yellow-highlighted figure above is the seasonally adjusted and annualized number of newly-built homes with committed buyers for the indicated month.

The "predicted" figure is what economists were expecting, while the "actual" is the true or real figure.

The New Home Sales report is watched by economists and investors because it offers insight into the state of the U.S. housing market, and also provides data that can be used to predict sales of large household furniture and appliances like refrigerators, air conditioners, microwave ovens, etc.

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Friday, April 21, 2017

Existing Home Sales During March 2017

The Existing Home Sales report for March 2017 was released by The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) this morning:

Predicted: 5,605,000
Actual: 5,710,000

  •  Change from Previous Month: +4.4%
  •  Change from One Year Previous: +5.9%
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Inventory: 1,830,000 (3.8 months supply)

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The yellow-highlighted, "actual" figure above represents the preliminary, seasonally adjusted annualized sales count of existing homes, co-ops and condominiums for last month. The "predicted" figure is what economists were expecting, while the "actual" is the true or real figure.

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Median Price for A Used Home During March 2017: $236,400
Change from One Year Previous: +6.8%

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Average Price for A Used Home During March 2017: $278,500
Change from One Year Previous: +5.3%

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Click here for historical prices and a chart.


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Cost of A Used (Preowned) Home in The USA - March 2017
Cost of A Used (Preowned) Home in The USA - March 2017

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  • The monthly Existing Home Sales report is released on or around the 25TH day of each month.

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Leading Economic Index for March 2017

The Conference Board® released its Leading Economic Index® for March 2017 this morning:

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Index for March: 126.7 (The baseline 100 score is associated with 2010 data.)

Predicted: +0.2
Actual: +0.4%

  • Previous Month: +0.5 (revised.)

  • Two Months Previous: +0.6

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The yellow-highlighted percentage represents the month-to-month change for the index.  The "predicted" figure is what economists were expecting, while the "actual" is the true or real figure.

The Leading Economic Indicators Index is a composite of 10 of the nation's economic data releases that's put together by The Conference Board. Statistically, the components listed below have shown a significant increase or decrease before national economic upturns or downturns:

  1. The Standard + Poor's 500 Index

  2. Average weekly claims for unemployment insurance

  3. Building permits for new private housing

  4. The interest rate spread between the yield on the benchmark 10-Year Treasury Note and Federal Funds

  5. ISM® Index of New Orders

  6. Manufacturer's new orders for consumer goods or materials

  7. Manufacturers' new orders, nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft orders

  8. Average weekly manufacturing hours

  9. Average consumer expectations for business conditions

  10. Leading Credit Index™

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Leading Economic Index for March 2017
Leading Economic Index for March 2017

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From Today's Report:

"...'The March increase and upward trend in the U.S. LEI point to continued economic growth in 2017, with perhaps an acceleration later in the year if consumer spending and investment pick up,' said Ataman Ozyildirim, Director of Business Cycles and Growth Research at The Conference Board. 'The gains among the leading indicators were very widespread, with new orders in manufacturing and the interest rate spread more than offsetting declines in the labor market components in March.'..."


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New Unemployment Insurance Claims for The Week of April 15, 2017

Earlier today, the Labor Department released its weekly report on New Jobless Insurance Claims for the week that ended on  April 15, 2017:

Predicted: 242,000
Actual: 244,000

The yellow-highlighted figure represents the number of first-time claims for unemployment benefits for the entire United States. The "predicted" figure is what economists were expecting, while the "actual" is the true or real figure.

  • Previous Week (unrevised): 234,000
  • 4-Week Moving Average: 243,000
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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Crude Oil Inventories Report for Week of April 14, 2017

The U.S. Crude Oil Inventories report for the week that ended on April 14, 2017 was released this morning:

Weekly Change: -1,000,000 Barrels

Yearly Change: +25,000,000 Barrels

Current U.S. Crude Oil Stocks: 532,300,000 Barrels

Diminishing crude oil inventories often translate to higher crude oil prices (and vice versa), but not always.

The report is produced by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Industrial Production + Manufacturing + Capacity Utilization for March 2017

The Industrial Production, Manufacturing and Capacity Utilization numbers for March 2017 were released by the Federal Reserve this morning:

Industrial Production:
Predicted: +0.4%
Actual: +0.5%

Manufacturing:
Predicted: +0.1%
Actual: -0.4%

The above numbers (highlighted) represent the month-to-month change in manufacturing, and physical output from mining operations, utility plants and factories for the entire United States.

Capacity Utilization Rate:
Predicted: 76.0%
Actual: 76.1

The Capacity Utilization Rate represents the use of available resources at mining operations, utility plants and factories for the entire United States last month.

The "predicted" figures are what economists were expecting, while the "actual" is the true or real figure.

 

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Housing Starts During March 2017

The U.S. Commerce Department this morning released its Housing Starts report for March 2017:

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Housing Starts:
Predicted: 1,262,000
Actual: 1,215,000

Change From Previous Month: -6.8%
Change From One Year Previous: +9.2%

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Building Permits:
Predicted: 1,250,000
Actual: 1,260,000

Change From Previous Month: +3.6%
Change From One Year Previous: +17.0%

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Housing Starts: The top, yellow-highlighted figure is a measure of initial construction of single and multi-family residential units in the United States for the indicated month. The "predicted" figure is what economists were expecting, while the "actual" is the true or real figure.

If you're wondering about the demand for new homes in the United States,or about the American construction industry in general, then you should pay attention to the monthly Housing Starts report. This report also offers insight into specific types of consumer spending: when housing starts are up, demand for the stuff that a consumer would purchase for a new home (large appliances, consumer electronics, furniture, etc.) tends to also rise --  and vice versa.

Click here to view the full Commerce Department report (PDF).

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Friday, April 14, 2017

Consumer Price Index (CPI) for March 2017

Earlier this morning, the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics released the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for March 2017:

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Predicted: 0.0%
Actual: -0.3%

(Change from 12 months previous: +2.4%)

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Below is the CPI when food and energy are removed, also known as core CPI:

Predicted: +0.2%
Actual: -0.1%

(Change from 12 months previous: +2.0%)

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The above, yellow-highlighted figures represent the seasonally adjusted, month-to-month change in prices for a specific group of goods and services that consumers buy, and is, therefore, a very important part of the overall inflation picture for the country.

The "predicted" figure is what economists were expecting, while the "actual" is the true or real figure.

General categories that constitute the CPI are:

  • Healthcare
  • Housing
  • Clothing
  • Communications
  • Education
  • Transportation
  • Food and Beverages
  • Recreation
  • Miscellaneous Goods and Services (grooming expenses, etc.)
Click here to view the full Labor Department report.

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U.S. Retail And Food Services Sales Report for March 2017

The Commerce Department this morning released advanced estimates of U.S. Retail and Food Services Sales for March 2017:

Predicted: 0.0%
Actual: -0.2%

The yellow-highlighted percentage represents the month-to-month change in total sales receipts for retailers that sell durable and non-durable goods,and retailers that provide food and beverage services.

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Previous Month (revised): -0.3%

Estimated Retail Sales During February: $470,800,000,000

Change from 12 Months Previous: +5.2%

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The "predicted" figure is what economists were expecting, while the "actual" is the true or real figure.


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Thursday, April 13, 2017

New Unemployment Insurance Claims for The Week of April 8, 2017

Earlier today, the Labor Department released its weekly report on New Jobless Insurance Claims for the week that ended on  April 8, 2017:

Predicted: 243,000
Actual: 234,000

The yellow-highlighted figure represents the number of first-time claims for unemployment benefits for the entire United States. The "predicted" figure is what economists were expecting, while the "actual" is the true or real figure.

  • Previous Week (revised): 235,000
  • 4-Week Moving Average: 247,250
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Producer Price Index - Final Demand (PPI-FD) for March 2017

The Producer Price Index - Final Demand (PPI-FD) for March 2017 was released this morning:

Predicted: 0.0%
Actual: -0.1%

Change from 12 months previous: +2.3%

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Below is the PPI-FD when food and energy are removed:

Predicted: +0.2%
Actual: 0.0%

Change from 12 months previous: +1.6%

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The above, yellow-highlighted percentages represent the month-to-month change in prices received by domestic producers of goods and services, for goods, services and construction in the United States, for final demand.

Final Demand = personal consumption (consumers), exports, government purchases and capital investment.

The PPI-FD is released by the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The "predicted" figure is what economists were expecting, while the "actual" is the true or real figure.

Click here to view the full Labor Department report.


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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Crude Oil Inventories Report for Week of April 7, 2017

The U.S. Crude Oil Inventories report for the week that ended on April 7, 2017 was released this morning:

Weekly Change: -2,200,000 Barrels

Yearly Change: +28,100,000 Barrels

Current U.S. Crude Oil Stocks: 533,400,000 Barrels

Diminishing crude oil inventories often translate to higher crude oil prices (and vice versa), but not always.

The report is produced by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

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Import and Export Price Indexes for March 2017

The Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics this morning released its report on U.S. Import and Export Price Indexes for March 2017:

Import Prices
Predicted: -0.2%
Actual: -0.2%

Change From 12 Months Previous: +4.2%

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Export Prices
Predicted: +0.1%
Actual: +0.2%

Change From 12 Months Previous: +3.6%

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The above percentages, highlighted in yellow, represent the month-to-month change in prices for:

  • Imports: the cost of goods produced in other countries and sold in the United States.
  • Exports: the cost of goods produced in the USA and sold in other countries.

Together, these indexes offer insight into the status of inflation in the United States, and for the global economy as well. The "predicted" figure is what economists were expecting, while the "actual" is the true or real figure.

Click here to view the full Labor Department report.

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

NFIB Small Business Optimism Index for March 2017

The National Federation of Independent Business® (NFIB®) released its Small Business Optimism Index for March 2017:

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Predicted: 104.8
Actual: 104.7

  • Change from Previous Month: -0.57%
  • Change from 12 Months Previous: +13.067%

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NFIB Small Business Optimism Index - March 2017
NFIB Small Business Optimism Index - March 2017

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From today's report:

"...'Small business owners remain optimistic about the future of the economy and the direction of consumer confidence,' said NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan. 'We are encouraged by signs that optimism is translating into economic activity, such as capital investment and job creation.'

The Index slipped 0.6 points in March to 104.7, still a very strong reading. Actual earnings, capital expenditure plans, and job-creation plans posted gains in March. Sales expectations, which have been flying high for months, dropped by 8 points, a sign that the Optimism Index could be moderating after a strong run.

'By historical standards, this is an excellent performance, with most of the components of the Index holding their gains,' said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. 'The increases in capital expenditure plans and actual earnings are signs of a healthier economy, and we expect job creation to pick up in future months.'

Dunkelberg noted that while the overall Index remained strong in March, a significant increase in the Uncertainty Index, a subset of data on how small business owners see the near-term future, could indicate trouble on the horizon.

'The Uncertainty Index hit 93 in March, which is the second highest reading in the survey’s history,' he said. 'More small business owners are having a difficult time anticipating the factors that affect their businesses, especially government policy.'

Most of the March data were collected before Congress failed to pass a bill repealing and replacing Obamacare. A big reason for the soaring optimism of the past five months is the expectation among small business owners that Obamacare and other burdensome policies will be reversed by Congress and the new administration.

'The April data (due out in May) will tell us much more about how small business owners are processing the events in Washington,' said Duggan. 'We know they have struggled under Obamacare, and that taxes are a major concern. Congress’s failure to keep its promises could dampen optimism, and that would ripple through the economy.'..."

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  • Small business survey questions can be found at the end of today's report.
  • The baseline "100" score is associated with 1986 survey data.
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The previous month's Small Business Optimism Index was 105.3.

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