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     WASHINGTON (MNI) - The following are excerpts from the National Federation
of Independent Business' monthly Small Business Optimism index published
Tuesday:
     The Small Business Optimism Index posted its sixth highest reading in
survey history for the month of June, at 107.2, down 0.6 from May. Since
December 2016, the Index has averaged an unprecedented 105.4, well above the
45-year average of 98 and rivaling the all-time high of 108.0 in July 1983.
     "Small business owners continue to report astounding optimism as they
celebrate strong sales, the creation of jobs, and more profits," said NFIB
President and CEO Juanita Duggan. "The first six months of the year have been
very good to small business thanks to tax cuts, regulatory reform, and policies
that help them grow."
     Highlights from the June report include:
     Owners reported some of the strongest nominal sales in years. Plans to
invest in additional inventories advanced solidly. Plans to create new jobs
posted a solid gain and the percent of owners with open positions tied the
record high. Reports of compensation increases remained historically high and
finding qualified workers easily held on to the top spot in the "single most
important business problem" list. A net ten percent of all owners (seasonally
adjusted) reported higher nominal sales in the past three months compared to the
prior three months, down five points but still one of the strongest readings in
years. June is the seventh consecutive strong month of reported sales gains.
Reports of sales increases were most frequent in manufacturing and the wholesale
trades.
     "There was a fractional decline in the Index from May to June,
statistically insignificant. Small business owners are already seeing their
bottom lines grow due to strong sales and regulatory relief and the new tax law
is expected to push profits higher as the year progresses," said NFIB Chief
Economist Bill Dunkelberg.
     The frequency of reports of positive profit trends hit a record high in
May, moving down only four percentage points in June, maintaining one of the
best readings in the survey's 45 year history. Additionally, reports of positive
sales trends have been historically strong for the past few months, so owners
have had to satisfy the strong sales demand by selling out of inventories. This
produced an increase in the percent of owners planning to invest in new
inventory stocks in the coming months.
     The net percent of owners viewing current inventory stocks as "too low"
gained four points to a net zero percent, a very positive move. This confirms
that the inventory reductions reported were indeed a result of strong sales, not
a result of a less certain future.
     As reported in NFIB's June jobs report, 63 percent of owners reported
hiring or trying to hire, up five points from last month and the highest level
since September 1999. However, 55 percent (87 percent of those hiring or trying
to hire) reported few or no qualified applicants for the positions they were
trying to fill.
--MNI Washington Bureau; tel: +1 202-371-2121; email: kevin.kastner@marketnews.com
[TOPICS: MTABLE,MAUDS$,M$U$$$]

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