The decline in small business optimism of 8.1 points was the largest decline history and the first time in 39 months it fell below 100.
Financial markets are continuing to trade higher today on hope that the Chinese coronavirus epidemic in the United States is peaking, and the country may reopen for work by early summer. The veracity of this hope is yet to be determined; markets could be disappointed with coming data and retest the lows of March.
Nine of the 10 Index components declined, which is evidence that economic disruptions are escalating on Main Street as small businesses struggle to keep their doors open. The small business sector is anticipating and bracing for continued economic disruptions going forward, reported Zero Hedge.
“Small businesses are living through the coronavirus pandemic right now and it’s hard to say what the severity of the disruption will be, but we do know they’re feeling the urgency,” said NFIB Chief Economist William Dunkelberg. “It is vital that these businesses have access to federal funds that are made available through the CARES Act to keep the doors open on Main Street.”
The main takeaways from the March survey include:
- The NFIB Uncertainty Index rose 12 points in March to 92, the highest level since March 2017.
- Reports of better business conditions in the next six months declined 17 points to a net 5%, which is the largest monthly decline since November 2012.
- Real sales expectations in the next six months declined 31 points to a net negative 12%, the largest monthly decline in the survey’s history.
- Thirteen percent of firms thought it was a good time to expand, a decline of 13 points from last month.
- Job openings fell three points to 35%.
NFIB Business Optimism Index (Mar) printed at 96.4 vs consensus estimate of 104.6.
JOLTS Job Openings (Feb) printed at 6.882M vs estimate of 6.6M
IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism (MoM) (Apr) printed at 47.8.
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