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Optimism among owners of small business in the U.S. crept higher in January, continuing a trend, amid hopes for higher sales.
The National Federation of Independent Business's small business optimism index rose to 94.1 from 93.9 the previous month. It was the third straight month in a row that the index has improved.
Despite the upbeat direction, the NFIB said in a statement that the "index is still just treading water."
The industry group said its real sales expectations subindex jumped to 15 percent in the month.
Hopes for an increase in sales resulted in expectations of a pick up in hiring. The employment-plans subindex climbed to 12 percent, its highest level since 2007. The NFIB said small firms added an average 0.12 workers per small business in the last three months.