The confidence of small business owners fell slightly in May, the third consecutive monthly decline since February, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). The Business Barometer index dropped one-third of a point to 62.1 from April's 62.4.
"It's a fairly small decline, but the index is now at its lowest point since the summer of 2012, when the economy went through a slow-motion act," said Ted Mallett, CFIB's chief economist and vice-president. "Canadian small business optimism remains cool this spring."
Small business owners in Alberta (68.8) are the most optimistic in the country, although Newfoundland and Labrador (68.3), Saskatchewan (65.8), and British Columbia (64.9) are all above the national average. Ontario (61.9), and Manitoba (61) are slightly below the national average, while New Brunswick (58.1) and Prince Edward Island (55.6) are further back. The biggest declines occurred in Quebec (58.9), which dropped five full points, and Nova Scotia (50), which is by far the lowest in the country.
"Despite a reasonably good outlook for employment and capital investment, there are general signs of sluggishness, including a greater concern over levels of customer demand," said Mallett. "Manufacturing, transportation and hospitality are the weakest sectors this month, while the information and financial services sectors are above the norm."
Measured on a scale of 0 and 100, an index level above 50 means owners expecting their businesses' performance to be stronger in the next year outnumber those expecting weaker performance. According to past results, index levels normally range between 65 and 70 when the economy is growing at its potential. The May 2013 findings are based on 1054 responses.
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