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US small business sentiment weakens in September

Optimism among small business owners in the U.S. weakened in September amid a steep drop in sales expectations across the country, according to the National Federation of Independent Business, or NFIB.

The NFIB Index of Small Business Optimism fell to 103 from 105.3, with six of the 10 index components posting declines. The number of small business owners expecting better sales plunged a net 12, while those thinking that it's a good time to expand fell a net 10 points.

One index component was unchanged while three others improved, including inventory plans, which gained five points as more business owners expected a strong fourth quarter.

NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan said blaming the index's decline on the hurricanes in Texas and Florida is not consistent with the NFIB's data.

"The dropoff was consistent around the country regardless of region, and it's likely that members in Florida and Texas were underrepresented in this survey because of the obvious disruptions," Duggan said, referring to hurricanes that hit the two states. She added that the index remains "very high" by historical standards.

"Small business owners still expect policy changes from Washington on healthcare and taxes, and while they don't know what those changes will look like, they expect them to be an improvement," Duggan explained.