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Small-business sentiment dips on trade uncertainty, NFIB says

Trade Uncertainty

The numbers: The index of small-business optimism from the National Federation of Independent Business declined 1.7 points to 103.3 in June. That’s a gloomier reading than the consensus forecast of 104.0.

What happened: Six of 10 index components fell, three improved, and one stayed the same. Notably, owners’ plans to increase employment and to spend on capital both declined, as did expectations of higher sales ahead.

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The NFIB, a lobby group for small-business owners who prize small government, blamed “uncertainty” for the decline in sentiment. “Some ‘tariff’ inflation pressures may be surfacing as the percent of firms raising selling prices rose significantly, with 30% of owners reporting recent changes in China trade policy negatively impacting their business,” the group said in a release.

Small-business owners may also be reacting to the tumble in the stock marketSPX, 0.48% in May, but NFIB often focuses on policy in its analysis. Indeed, in June, the group blamed the usual suspects, including difficulties filling open positions in a tight labor market, and nodded to a new one, “harmful state level laws and regulations,” perhaps because taxes and red tape on the federal level have already been cut so much.

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