OPTIMISM KEEPS GROWING

Small business owners began 2018 upbeat about how their companies will fare over the course of the year, according to a quarterly survey by Wells Fargo and Gallup.

The two companies’ index of owners’ expectations for the next 12 months rose to 65 in the survey taken Jan. 2-9. That compared to 60 percent in a survey three months earlier. An overall index of owners’ optimism rose to 107 from 103.

The latest survey, which questioned 603 owners, was taken more than two weeks after the enactment of the new tax law. The law raised the prospect of lower taxes for small customers as well as company owners.

The economy, which grew 2.6 percent in the fourth quarter and 2.3 percent for all of 2017, is also a factor in increasing optimism, said Wells Fargo Senior Economist Mark Vitner.

“Many small business owners believe that strong momentum will carry over into 2018,” he said.

The survey also showed that hiring plans are creeping higher, in line with the findings of other recent surveys. A third of the owners surveyed by Wells Fargo and Gallup said they’ll be hiring over the next 12 months. That’s up 1 percentage point from the previous survey, taken in November.

REMODELING MARKET

Businesses in the home remodeling industry are expected to have a solid 2018, according to a study by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.

The center’s quarterly Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity forecasts 7.5 percent growth in spending by homeowners on improvements and repairs compared to what they spent in 2017. Spending grew 6.3 percent last year.

The strong economy and rising home sales prices have helped lift demand for home improvements, said Chris Herbert, manager of the Harvard center,

A 7.5 percent increase would be the strongest gain in home remodeling spending since before the Great Recession began, the center said.

HR MISTAKES

Small businesses without dedicated human resources employees or HR consultants can make mistakes with employees that can be costly. SCORE, the organization that provides free counseling to small business owners, is sponsoring an online seminar about five common and potentially serious mistakes that employers make. It will be held Thursday, Feb. 1 at 1 p.m. Eastern time. You can learn more and register at http://bit.ly/2CtXYV9 .

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Follow Joyce Rosenberg at www.twitter.com/JoyceMRosenberg . Her work can be found here: https://apnews.com/search/joyce%20rosenberg