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Business confidence dips in March


April 3, 2014
By Canadian Garden Centre & Nursery

Apr. 4, 2014, Toronto — Small business optimism across Canada slipped a
little in March, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent
Business.

CFIB's latest Business Barometer index settled to 64.1 in March,
compared to 64.4 in February and 64.0 in January, lending a stable
start to the year.

“The
national number is buoyed somewhat by very good results in the
prairies,” said Ted Mallett, CFIB’s vice-president and chief economist.
“Alberta and Saskatchewan are traditionally strong, and Manitoba also
had a modest rebound in March. This pocket of strength offsets somewhat
less encouraging numbers in other parts of the country.”

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For the
first time in nine months, Alberta found itself back on top in March in
terms of small business confidence, with an index of 72.7. Saskatchewan
(66.4), Manitoba (61.4), and to a lesser extent Ontario (63.7), also
gained ground in March.

Meanwhile, optimism levels in
Newfoundland & Labrador (65.9), Quebec (58.7) and Prince Edward
Island (57.6) were headed down. British Columbia (71.2), Nova Scotia
(57.9) and New Brunswick (56.9) saw little change.

By sector,
March optimism levels improved in agriculture, construction, wholesale,
retail and information, as well as arts and recreation. These gains were
offset by declines in the manufacturing, transportation, professional
services and hospitality sectors.

“Small businesses are sending
some mixed signals [in March] about where the economy is headed,” said
Mallett. “Hiring expectations remain strong, with 26 per cent of small
businesses expecting to add full-timers, and only 7 per cent expecting
to cut staff in the coming months. That is very encouraging. However,
only 36 per cent see their businesses as being ‘in good shape’, and that
is the lowest reading we’ve seen since mid-2010. We will watch these
indicators with great interest going forward.”

Measured on a
scale of 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.

Past results have shown index levels normally range between 65 and 70 when the economy is growing at its potential.

The
March findings are based on 1,115 responses, collected from a
stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web
survey. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 2.9 per cent 19 times
in 20.


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