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Market News (01/09/2013)
MADISON, Wis. (1/9/13)

  • U.S. small-business sentiment slightly improved in December, but is only marginally higher than November's reading, which was the lowest reading since 2009 of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Small Business Optimism Index (Moody's Jan. 8). The composite index inched up to 88 last month from 87.5 in November. Earnings still are down, resulting in small companies reducing hiring and investment plans, NFIB said. Also, many small firms intend to let inventories decrease--an indication that future business expectations are soft, NFIB said. Small companies will see tough times in the next several months because the consumer recovery likely will idle in the best-case scenario and could decline at worst. That's because the combined effect of political squabbling and tax hikes will erode buyers' confidence, NFIB concluded  …
  • State and local governments in the U.S. will have a buffer to withstand federal budget cuts. They will be able to hire and spend on their own because they are in their best financial condition since the recession ( Jan. 7). State and local authorities will add employees in 2013, after cutting their work forces by roughly 500,000 in the past five years, Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics Inc. in West Chester, Pa., told Bloomberg.  He forecasts that fourth-quarter payrolls will be 220,000 more than in the same period for 2012. Also, St. Louis-based Macroeconomic Advisers projects that state and local government expenditures and investments will rise 1.8%--triple the increase last year. That shift to regional spending will help the country withstand the jolt from federal spending cuts and tax increases--keeping the economic recovery on track, Zandi said …

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