U.S. small business confidence increased in April with owners in the energy field surprisingly bullish about capital expenditure and hiring plans, further supporting views that economic growth was rebounding after a dismal first quarter.
The National Federation of Independent Business said on Tuesday its Small Business Optimism Index rose 1.7 points to 96.9 last month. It is the latest sign the economy is clawing back after being slammed by a mix of bad weather, port disruptions, a strong dollar and deep spending cuts by energy firms.
Nine of the index's 10 components rose last month, with the exception of sales. Employment and consumer sentiment data have suggested a pick-up in growth momentum at the start of the second quarter, but the dollar and lower oil prices continue to weigh on manufacturing.
"In spite of the dramatic reversal of economic activity in the energy sector, owners in the shale states remained substantially more aggressive than their counterparts in the other states," the NFIB said in a statement.