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Survey: Small business owners lose some post-election cheer

NEW YORK (AP) — Small business owners have lost some of their post-election optimism, according to a survey released Thursday by Wells Fargo & Co.

The bank’s quarterly small business index, based on a survey taken in early April, dropped to a reading of 95 from 100 at the start of 2017 and 80 in the fourth quarter. Other small business surveys had also shown a surge in optimism after the election and the inauguration of Donald Trump.

The Wells Fargo survey may reflect more pessimism in response to the economic slowdown they felt in the first quarter. Government figures showed the U.S. gross domestic product grew at an anemic 0.7 percent annual rate in that period. Much of the decline in the bank’s index came from owners’ assessments of current financial conditions.

The 603 owners surveyed also had lowered expectations for their revenue in the next 12 months. Fifty-seven percent expected to have revenue gains, down from 61 percent in the first quarter.

Hiring expectations did tick up, with 31 percent planning to increase their payrolls versus 29 percent in the fourth quarter. Small business job creation has been erratic over the past year; on Wednesday, payroll provider ADP said its small business customers added 61,000 jobs in April, down from March’s 117,000.

Hiring forecasts have also varied widely in recent months — the Wells survey is more optimistic than one from Bank of America last week that saw 18 percent of owners expecting to hire, down from 25 percent six months ago.

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