The payment: The National Federation of Independent Business Small Business Optimism Index declined 2 points to 102.7 in December, the trading group said on Tuesday. That was below Econoday's consensus forecast of 104.4.
What happened: Six of the 10 index components fell, two improved and two remained unchanged. Both the components of economic and sales expectations increased, but so did the uncertainty. The search for qualified workers remained the main problem for companies.
Big picture: Economists monitor the NFIB's capital intentions for evidence of economic performance. In December this component fell 2 points to 28.
What do you say? "The drop in investment plans is disappointing, but the index is slightly higher than a year ago, so it still points to a recovery in investment next spring, though the first quarter is likely to be subdued," said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.
Market reaction: The stocks eased slightly as the first important quarterly earnings reports on Tuesday. The S&P 500 index
SPX, + 0.00%
slipped 8 points in early trading.