The drop last month indicates a more tepid mood among small businesses in the US to start the year. The reading is the 26th consecutive month below the 50-year average of 98, so that provides some colour to the data over the last two years. On the inflation front, only 21% of owners are expecting to raise their average selling prices and that is the lowest since January 2021. That should be some good news for the Fed at least. However, employment conditions are softening and that is one to keep an eye out for in the months ahead.