Small business optimism slid in Oct., survey shows

OPTIMISM SLIDES: The 16-day shutdown of the federal government and uncertainty about health care costs hurt small business owners' optimism in October, according to the National Federation of Independent Business. The advocacy group's monthly index of owner optimism fell 2.3 points to 91.6. The index was based on a survey of its 1,940 NFIB members. It's been stuck in a narrow range since the start of the recession.

WORRYING ABOUT WASHINGTON: The stalemate in Congress that led to the shutdown convinced more owners that this is a bad time to expand, said NFIB economist William Dunkelberg. The number of owners who expect business conditions to be better in six months fell 7 percentage points. Among their concerns is that lawmakers, when they agreed to end the shutdown, funded the government's operations only through Jan. 15, a short-term fix, Dunkelberg said. Concerns about problems with the launch of the government's health care website also hurt owners' optimism.

OUTLOOK FOR SALES, SPENDING: The number of owners who expect sales volume to rise fell 6 points. The number planning capital expenditures, typically on equipment or property, fell 2 points.

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