Survey: Business optimism lukewarm in state

BOULDER — Colorado business leaders’ optimism is modest going into the first quarter of 2013 with uncertainty surrounding the nation’s political and economic environments, according to the most recent quarterly Leeds Business Confidence Index, released by the University of Colorado Boulder’s Leeds School of Business.

For the first quarter of 2013, the index, conducted by the Leeds School’s Business Research Division, posted an overall confidence reading of 51.3, down slightly from 51.6 in the fourth quarter of 2012.

A reading greater than the neutral mark of 50 indicates positive expectations and one less than 50 indicates negative expectations.

Business leaders are optimistic about all of the metrics of the quarterly index except for the national economy and industry hiring plans. The other categories measured include the state economy, industry sales, industry profits and capital expenditures.

“For months, drags on the national economy have included the European debt crisis, the slow rate of employment growth and the resolution of the federal debt crisis,´ said economist Richard Wobbekind, executive director of the Business Research Division.

“While Colorado business leaders have stronger confidence in the local economy than the national economy, they’re proceeding very cautiously.”

Confidence in the state economy, which is at 55.5 points for the first quarter of 2013, outstrips that of the national economy, which posted a reading of 47. The outpacing of confidence in Colorado’s economy compared with the national economy is a 30-quarter trend, based on index results.

Business leaders’ sales expectations for the first quarter increased to 54.4, up from 53.2 last quarter, and are buoyed by 44.1 percent of index respondents who anticipate an increase in the first quarter versus 25.2 percent who predict a decline.

Meanwhile, leaders’ profit expectations fell to 51.6, down from 52.2 for the last quarter of 2012.

Hiring expectations have slipped into negative territory at 49.3, down from 51 in the last quarter of 2012, while expectations about capital expenditures remain close to neutral at 50.1.

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