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AIM: Business confidence rises in Massachusetts

Massachusetts Business Confidence Index rose 2.6 points in January to post a 50.4 reading; despite signs of weak economic growth, the state’s employers were seemingly encouraged by progress made towards addressing federal fiscal issues, the Associated Industries of Massachusetts, or AIM, said Tuesday.

An organization of Bay State employers, AIM has maintained a monthly business confidence index since mid 1991. Based on surveys of AIM’s members, the index uses a 100-point scale. A reading over 50 suggests a positive outlook; a reading under 50 a negative one.

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While January’s index reading is better than December’s, it’s 2.4 points lower than the reading posted for January 2012, AIM said.

In a statement, Raymond G. Torto, the chair of AIM’s Board of Economic Advisors, said: “January 2013 is better than late 2012, but not as good as a year ago. The agreement on taxes at the beginning of the month resolved a large issue facing many businesses, and we have since seen further signs that Washington may be moving past the deadlock of the last two years, not just on fiscal matters but also on, for example, immigration.”

According to AIM, local employers have been monitoring the so-called fiscal cliff debate in Washington. At the end of December, Congress reached an eleventh-hour compromise that settled tax questions but put off spending issues for a few months.

The Associated Industries of Massachusetts Business Confidence Index posted historical highs of 68.5 twice --- once in 1997 and again in 1998. Its all-time low was 33.3 in February 2009.

Chris Reidy can be reached at reidy@globe.com.
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