WASHINGTON Small businesses in the United States became less confident in the economy's future for the sixth straight month in August following a bruising spending battle in Congress, a survey showed on Tuesday.
The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) said its Small Business Optimism Index fell 1.8 points to 88.1.
The decline was largely due to weaker expectations for real sales gains and reduced hope for an improvement in business conditions in the next six months.
"With such a dim outlook, owners are not going to do a lot of hiring or expanding," said William Dunkelberg, chief economist at the NFIB.
The U.S. Congress let a debate over spending go down to the wire in early August, nearly leaving the government unable to pay its bills. The country's debt was then downgraded by a major rating agency.
The index reading was based on a survey of NFIB members. (Reporting by Jason Lange, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)