OTTAWA — While worries over the financial health of the U.S. government and several European administrations have world stock investors in a tizzy, that turbulence doesn’t seem to be spilling over to Canada’s small-business sector.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business’s monthly “business barometer,” which assesses the confidence of small- and medium-sized business owners, was up two points to 68.3 in July.
That followed two months of decline.
“For the most part, it appears Canadian business owners are not seeing much turbulence from the sovereign-debt uncertainties in Europe and the U.S.,” Ted Mallett, chief economist for CFIB, said in a statement. “Measures for new orders, inventories and overtime are up, compared to past months, and investment intentions have improved in all categories except vehicles.”
Business confidence was generally strongest in the West, though the CFIB noted improving sentiment in Central Canada as well. Alberta had the highest score at 74.9, and Prince Edward Island the lowest at 60.3.
Some of the other provinces’ scores included Ontario at 68.1, British Columbia at 67.9, Saskatchewan at 67, and Quebec at 65.6.
Scores greater than 50 show most business owners expect their firms’ performances to improve rather than deteriorate in the coming 12 months. Historically, the barometer has been at between 65 and 75 when the economy is growing.
Some of the strongest sectors for business-owner confidence were business services and transportation, while there was weakness in hospitality and agriculture.
Commenting on the CFIB’s report, TD Economics economist Shahrzad Mobasher Fard said: “Looking ahead, we expect confidence among Canadian SMEs (small and medium enterprises) to hover around current levels, affected by a number of limiting factors such as the weaker-than-anticipated outlook for the U.S. and world economies, as well as the elevated levels of Canadian household indebtedness.”
The index was based on online polls with 931 CFIB members. It’s considered representative of Canada’s small and medium-sized business sector within 3.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 2