Colorado confidence index slips, but still reflects upbeat outlook

Rich Wobbekind

Richard Wobbekind

An index tracking confidence among Colorado business leaders has edged down, but continues to reflect an upbeat outlook going into the fourth quarter.

“Business leaders remained optimistic overall despite confidence being tested by uncertainty coming out of Washington. Coupling business confidence with other economic metrics, Colorado looks to be on a stable growth trajectory,” said Richard Wobbekind, executive director of the business research division of the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

The Leeds Business Confidence Index retreated 1.2 points for the fourth quarter, but at 59.3 remains near a post-recession high.

The index is based on the results of quarterly surveys of business leaders from across Colorado and a range of industry sectors. Readings above 50 indicate positive expectations for the coming quarter.

For the fourth quarter, readings for five of six components of the index slipped, but all readings still topped 50.

The component tracking confidence in the Colorado economy fell seven-tenths of a point, but stood at 63.9. While 57 percent of business leaders responding to the fourth quarter survey said they expect either a moderate or strong increase in the economy, 35 percent anticipated no change. Another 7.5 percent predicted a moderate or strong decrease.

Confidence in the national economy fell 2.6 points to 55.5. The proportion of leaders who said they expect a moderate or strong increase totaled 41 percent, while 40 percent anticipated no change.

Almost 19 percent of leaders predicted a moderate or strong decrease.

A component of the index tracking the outlook for hiring fell more than a point to 57.8, although nearly 41 percent of leaders said they expected a moderate to strong increase in staffing. Most leaders — nearly 47 percent — said they expected no change. Another 13 percent anticipated layoffs.

The reading for capital expenditures declined nearly two points to 57.4. While more than 38 percent of leaders said they expected a moderate to strong increase in spending, more than 47 percent forecast no change and 14 percent anticipated decreased spending.

The reading for sales retreated nearly two points to 62, although nearly 55 percent said they anticipated a moderate to strong increase in sales. Almost 34 percent forecast no change and 11.5 percent predicted a moderate to strong decreases.

The reading for profits advanced nearly a point to 59.3 with more than 47 percent of business leaders calling for a moderate to strong increase. While 39 percent of leaders expected no change, more than 13 percent anticipated a moderate to strong decrease.

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