US businesses have reported growing optimism about the economy and easing concerns about credit and regulation, according to the 2015 Chase Business Leaders Outlook, published in April.
“We’re seeing a positive combination of business leaders feeling better about their companies and effectively managing regulatory challenges, such as healthcare and taxes,” said John Simmons, Head of Middle Market Banking & Specialized Industries.
For the first time in the study’s five years, middle market companies’ optimism about the national economy exceeds the outlook for their local economy and industry performance. About two-thirds (68%) of middle market companies are optimistic about the US economy, compared with 54% in 2014.
Meanwhile small business owners have the brightest outlook in the three years Chase has surveyed them.
Businesses of all sizes reported lower confidence about the global economy, with pessimism among middle market companies increasing to 26% from 15% from last year, and 31% for small businesses in 2015.
As in past years, small businesses are most optimistic about their local economies.
“Small business owners have their fingers on the pulse of the local economy, so it’s especially encouraging to see their confidence in their customers and communities continue to grow,” said Jennifer Piepszak, CEO of Chase Business Banking, which generally serves businesses with up to $20 million (€17.9 million) in annual revenue.
A majority of both middle market and small business respondents expect sales and profit growth in 2015, with about three-quarters (73%) of larger companies and 60% of small businesses projecting revenue growth.
Optimism about profits is higher among middle market companies, with 66% expecting to grow profits compared with 55% of small businesses. Business leaders in the retail industry expect to see the biggest increase in both revenue/sales (80% vs. 67% in 2014) and profits (78% vs. 55% in 2014).
Meanwhile, concern over the availability of credit dropped in 2015, especially among small businesses (8% lower than 2014), indicating business leaders feel more confident about their access to the capital to support their business plans.
Planned capital expenditures are on the rise, especially for companies with more than $500,000 (€448,000) in annual revenue.
About half of all business leaders said lower oil prices had a positive impact on their businesses, although larger companies – especially in the South – were more likely to react negatively.