The latest issue of the NFIB Small Business Economic Trends came out this morning. The headline number for December came in at 104.9, down 2.6 from the previous month. The index is at the 96th percentile in this series. Today's number came in below the Investing.com forecast of 108.4.

Here is an excerpt from the opening summary of the news release.

Small business confidence blasted off the day after the 2016 election and remained in the stratosphere for all of 2017, making last year an all-time record setter for the NFIB Index of Small Business Optimism, released today.

“2017 was the most remarkable year in the 45-year history of the NFIB Optimism Index,” said NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan. “With a massive tax cut this year, accompanied by significant regulatory relief, we expect very strong growth, millions more jobs, and higher pay for Americans.”

The first chart below highlights the 1986 baseline level of 100 and includes some labels to help us visualize that dramatic change in small-business sentiment that accompanied the Great Financial Crisis. Compare, for example, the relative resilience of the index during the 2000-2003 collapse of the Tech Bubble with the far weaker readings following the Great Recession that ended in June 2009.

NFIB Optimism Index

Here is a closer look at the indicator since the turn of the century. We are now at a post-recession high.

NFIB Optimism Index Since 2000

The average monthly change in this indicator is 1.3 points. To smooth out the noise of volatility, here is a 3-month moving average of the Optimism Index along with the monthly values, shown as dots.

NFIB Optimism Index Moving Average