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Around the Region

Confidence up in Mass., index shows

By D.C. Denison
Globe Staff / June 2, 2010

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Business confidence surged in Massachusetts last month, the trade group Associated Industries of Massachusetts reports.

Its Business Confidence Index rose four points to 51.5, topping 50 — or neutral on its 100-point scale — for the first time since April 2008.

“The most important factor in May’s improvement was that confidence turned sharply positive among small employers, who suffered badly in the downturn and had been cautious in their expectations of recovery,’’ said Raymond G. Torto.

He is global chief economist at CB Richard Ellis Group and the chairman of AIM’s board of economic advisers.

Massachusetts employers are also more confident about their own situations than about the overall economy, Torto said.

The monthly confidence index is based on a survey of AIM member companies across Massachusetts.

It asks questions about current and prospective conditions in the state and the nation; respondents are also asked about their own operations.

The state’s secretary of Housing and Economic Development, Greg Bialecki, said yesterday that he was encouraged by the report.

“Economists tell us that small businesses are the first to start hiring in a recovery, so this is very good news,’’ he said.

“Business confidence is important. When you have it, good things happen.’’