Wall Street Journal/Vistage Small Business CEO Survey: Economic confidence plateaus

Economic confidence remains steady among small-business CEOs, according to the most recent Wall Street Journal/Vistage Small Business CEO Survey. In April, the Wall Street Journal/Vistage Small Business CEO Confidence Index was 112.3, compared to 112.5 in March. Other responses to this month’s survey were largely consistent with reports from the last several months.

Economic report and outlook mostly positive
Reflecting on the past year, 56% of CEOs reported that the economy had improved. This was similar to last month’s 57% but significantly higher than the 30% reported last year. Looking to the year ahead, however, only 49% of CEOs anticipated improved economic conditions, compared to 55% last month.

According to Dr. Richard Curtin of the University of Michigan, “the small decline probably reflects the realization that first-quarter GDP growth will be disappointing, and the effect of mounting delays in most of Trump’s proposed policies and regulations.”

Steady expectations for revenues and profits

This month, 76% of CEOs reported that they expected higher revenues for their firms in the year ahead. This is largely consistent with the 75% reported last month and the 77% recorded in the previous three months. The same was true for profit expectations. About 63% of CEOs reported that they expected improved profitability, in keeping with the 63% reported in four of the last five months (with the fifth month at 62%).

Consistent plans for hiring and investing

Largely speaking, firms haven’t changed their plans to increase capital investments or hiring. In April, 49% of firms reported that they planned to increase their fixed investment spending the year ahead. This figure has ranged from 47% to 49% in the last five months. In addition, 61% of firms said that they planned to increase their workforces, consistent with the range of 59-62% of firms in the last five months. This is the most favorable range since 2015.

See the infographic here.
Read the full report here.

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