November 08, 2006 at 08:00 AM EST
Declining Energy Prices Send Small Business Optimism Upward
New Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Survey: Business Owner Satisfaction and Confidence Climb

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 8 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Sharply declining energy prices and hopes for an economic "soft-landing" sent small business owner optimism to its highest level in a year and a half, according to the latest Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index. The Index stands at 110 -- far exceeding the baseline score of 69 at its inception in August 2003. In the latest survey, 74 percent of small business owners surveyed said their company's financial situation is very good or good and 79 percent expect to be better off financially a year from now.

"Future expectations are the same as they were six months ago, suggesting little, if any, softening in small business conditions over the next twelve months," said Dr. Scott Anderson, senior economist at Wells Fargo. "At the same time, the drop in energy prices and interest rates since July has helped revive current conditions for small businesses."

According to the Index results, an increasing number of small business owners reported slight increases in revenues and revenue expectations over the next 12 months, while cash flow, capital spending, and hiring remained constant. The majority of small business owners -- 94 percent -- continue to feel successful in business, while 92 percent indicated they are satisfied being small business owners.

"Our team talks to small business owners every day, and what we hear from them is that they are very optimistic about their future," said Rebecca Macieira-Kaufmann, executive vice president and head of Wells Fargo's Small Business segment. "This is evident by our double-digit growth in small business loans from the prior year. Our customers are investing in their future and this bodes well for the overall economy," she added.

About the Small Business Index

Since the third quarter of 2003, the quarterly Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index has surveyed small business owners on their perceptions of current conditions and future expectations relating to financial situation, revenues, cash flow, capital spending, number of jobs and credit availability. Results are based on telephone interviews with approximately 600 small business owners nationwide conducted September 27, 2006 through October 10, 2006. The margin of sampling error is +/- 4 percentage points.

About Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo & Company is a diversified financial services company with $483 billion in assets, providing banking, insurance, investments, mortgage and consumer finance to more than 23 million customers from more than 6,100 stores and the internet (wellsfargo.com) across North America and internationally. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. has the highest possible credit rating, "Aaa," from Moody's Investors Service and the highest credit rating given to a U.S. bank, "AA+," from Standard & Poor's Ratings Services.

Providing financial products and services to more than one million businesses with annual sales up to $20 million in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and Canada, Wells Fargo is the #1 lender to small businesses in the United States in total dollar volume according to the most recent CRA data (2004).

The second largest national SBA lender in dollars, Wells Fargo is an SBA Preferred Lender in 30 states and the District of Columbia, and originated 4,937 loans for $578 million in 2005. Its diverse business services programs provide outreach and education to women, African American, Latino, and Asian business owners about financial services. Since 1995, Wells Fargo has loaned more than $33 billion to women and diverse business owners. For more information, please visit us at www.wellsfargo.com/biz.

About the Gallup Organization

For more than 60 years, the Gallup Organization has been a recognized leader in the measurement and analysis of people's attitudes, opinions and behavior. While best known for the Gallup Poll, founded in 1935, Gallup's current activities consist largely of providing marketing and management research, advisory services and education to the world's largest corporations and institutions.

Source: Wells Fargo & Company

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