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A gas gauge shows the pressure on a pipeline near Budapest.

KAROLY ARVAI/REUTERS

Small business confidence continued to increase in August, according to the latest index provided by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

Its business barometer index rose 1.7 points to 65.9, its highest mark since February. An index above 50 suggests owners expect their performances to be stronger in the next year.

The CFIB says entrepreneurs in Saskatchewan are the most optimistic in Canada, with an index of 70.7. Newfoundland and Labrador is a close second at 70.4, followed by Alberta at 69.5, Ontario at 67.8 and British Columbia at 66.3.

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Quebec (59.0), New Brunswick (58.5), Nova Scotia (58.0), and Manitoba (57.6) are below the national average. Prince Edward Island (50.0) is at the back of the pack.

CFIB chief economist and vice-president Ted Mallett says August has been a pretty good month for small businesses in agriculture, manufacturing, retail, professional services and hospitality. But he adds there are uneven or weak outlooks for construction and transportation.

"Once again, increased confidence among Ontario entrepreneurs has powered the national average, although the index numbers are up in seven of the 10 provinces.

"So far, the summer is shaping up to be considerably better than the spring for small business owners."

The August findings are based on 1,018 responses, collected from a random sample of CFIB members to a controlled-access web survey.

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