Business Confidence Index dips slightly for 4th quarter

BOULDER — The outcome of the presidential election and fiscal problems in Washington are weighing on the minds of Colorado’s business leaders, although they remain somewhat optimistic, according to a survey released Monday by the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Leeds School of Business.

CU’s quarterly Leeds Business Confidence Index found a score of 51.6 entering the fourth quarter, down from 53.6 three months ago. The index is a forward-looking measure of opinions about economic trends and what executives predict their companies will do in the upcoming quarter. A score greater than 50 indicates optimism, while a score less than 50 indicates pessimism.

“The fourth-quarter index marks a full year of cautious optimism among business leaders,” professor Richard Wobbekind said in a press release accompanying the report. Wobbekind, executive director of the Leeds School’s Business Research Division, conducts the quarterly survey. “But at the same time, political and economic environments in the U.S., including the upcoming presidential election and the impending fiscal cliff, are posing challenges.”

Expectations dropped across the board but remain slightly positive, with the exception of hopes for the national economy, which rose slightly despite remaining negative.

Survey respondents lowered expectations for their own companies heading into the fourth quarter. Hiring expectations decreased from 53.7 in the third quarter to 51 in the fourth, while capital investment expectations measured 50.2, down from 52.6 last quarter.

Sales expectations for the fourth quarter fell from 58.1 to 53.2, while expectations for profits decreased from 54.9 to 52.2.

Survey takers also are uneasy about the national and state economy, although for the 30th consecutive quarter they are more optimistic about Colorado’s performance than they are about that of the nation.

The index measuring expectations for the state economy was 56.3, down from 56.6 in the third quarter, which the survey’s authors consider to be a reflection of general uneasiness and caution. The national index showed the only improvement for the quarter, rising from 46 to 46.8.

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