Small business owners' optimism stalls in August

STATUS QUO: Small business owners' optimism as measured by the National Federation of Independent Business was virtually unchanged in August. The NFIB's Small Business Optimism Index fell 0.1 point, continuing a years-long trend of fluctuating in a narrow range.

STEPS FORWARD, STEPS BACKWARD: The NFIB, which surveyed 759 of its members, found that small businesses expect to hire workers and have stronger sales over the next six months. But they also cut jobs and reported weaker sales during August.

THE BIG PICTURE: The index is in line with economic reports that show a slowing of business activity, including the weak August employment report from the Labor Department on Friday.

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