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Small Business Optimism Rises

After expressing growing pessimism in June, U.S. small-business owners are feeling more positive about their companies’ chances for success, a just-released survey shows. The National Federation of Independent Business reported that its Small Business Optimism Index increased 1.3 points in July to 95.4.

While the reading remains below the index’s 42-year average of 98, the rise represents an optimistic turn after the index plummeted in June to its lowest level in 15 months. Seven of the index’s 10 categories made gains last month. In July, for example, more owners said they expected to increase hiring, capital outlays and sales, while a greater number also reported that they believe now is a good time to expand.

Encouragingly, the index’s overall reading joins the growing list of indicators that the U.S. economy is poised for a stronger third quarter. Data on automobile sales, employment and the services sector suggest economic momentum is building following a second quarter in which gross domestic product expanded at a 2.3% annual rate.

In the ad specialty industry, meanwhile, positivity continues. Last week, ASI reported the Counselor Confidence Index – a measure of industry health and optimism – reached 112 following Q2, remaining near an all-time high. “I’m extremely optimistic about the rest of 2015,” said Nelson Penalver, vice president at Miami-based LOI Marketing (asi/255497). A busy summer sales season has brightened his outlook for the months ahead. “We’ve been working Saturday and Sunday just to keep up, and the activity is continuing,” Penalver said. “We’re already at 100% of our budget for the year. Everything from now on is gravy.”

The team at A&P Master Images (asi/702505) in Utica, NY, is also feeling upbeat about its company’s prospects for the remainder of the year. “We’re up 32% in gross sales so far and we continue to grow,” CEO Howard Potter told Counselor. “People want quality products and services, so that’s been huge for us.”