NFIB's Optimism And Uncertainty Indices Are A Mixed Bag
The NFIB Optimism Index for October remained unchanged from September peaking at a historically high reading of 104.0. Four of the 10 components improved, 5 declined, and 1 was unchanged. Although all of the data was collected prior to Election Day, a 6-point increase in the NFIB Uncertainty Index to 98 was likely driven by the election and uncertain conditions in future months due to the Covid-19 pandemic and possible government-mandated shutdowns. The uncertainty reading was the highest reading since November 2016.
“Leading up to the presidential election, small businesses continued to focus on stabilizing their businesses but were uncertain about the future economic conditions due to Covid-19 government regulations on all levels,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “We see solid momentum going into the 4th quarter, and another good quarter could get the GDP back to its 2019 closing levels.”
Other key findings include:
- Earnings trends over the past three months improved 9 points to a net negative 3% reporting higher earnings.
- Earnings trends have improved to pre-crisis levels, up 32 points since June.
- Inventory investment plans for the next three to six months increased 1 point to a net 12%, a record high.
- Real sales expectations in the next three months increased 3 points to a net 11% expecting gains.
- Owners expecting better business conditions over the next six months declined 5 points to a net 27%.
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