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Business confidence bounces back Add to ...

Confidence among small and medium-sized businesses hit a nine-month high at the end of the year, as manufacturers and natural resources companies grew more optimistic.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business monthly barometer showed confidence rose in December from November and hit its highest levels since March. The current level of the index, at 69.3, has returned to the normal range of when an economy is growing.

Sentiment improved in Ontario, along with Newfoundland and Labrador, Manitoba and Quebec.

“It wasn't holiday retail spending that accounted for the brighter sentiment,” said the federation’s chief economist Ted Mallett in a release. Rather, “a large improvement in optimism among manufacturers, natural resource businesses, financial services and personal services firms pushed the overall index upward.”

Other metrics, such as inventory levels, new orders and capital investment are also on an upward swing.

Not everything is in expansion mode. Just 14 per cent of business owners say they plan to add full-time staff in the next three months, while another 14 per cent expect to cut positions. And more owners plan to cut part-time jobs than create them. Average wage increases are expected to increase 1.6 per cent in the next year.

The December findings are based on 825 responses, collected from a random sample of CFIB members.

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