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Small business optimism is weak in January: CFIB

Businesses across Canada are moderating their expectations for the year ahead.


TORONTO — Optimism among small businesses, including manufacturers, continues to be weak, according the the January Business Barometer Index from the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (CFIB).

The monthly index measures the mood of small businesses across Canada. A reading above 50 indicates positive territory.

January’s showed a 55.3, down a little from December’s 55.5, which was near a 12-month low.

Manufacturing registered a 56, down 2.5 points from December. Twenty-per cent of respondents intend to hire over the next three months, 16% indicated hiring will be down. Topping the list of factors limiting sales and production are skills and labour shortages (44%), and insufficient domestic demand (36%). Top cost constraints are taxes and regulations (60%), wages (51%) and fuel/energy (41%).

CFIB said although economic anxieties expressed in Alberta and Saskatchewan are still having downward influences on the national sentiment, businesses in the rest of the country too are moderating their expectations for the year ahead. Seven of 10 provinces saw a decline in their index levels this month.

Forty per cent of owners say their businesses are in good shape, which is near the long-run average, but those in bad shape remain in elevated territory at 16 per cent. Orders and accounts receivables performance weakened off this month as well.

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