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Manufacturing plant in New York last year. Photo: Noam Galai via Getty Images

A key sales gauge has recovered past its pre-pandemic level, according to a new quarterly survey of business conditions by the National Association for Business Economics.

Why it matters: It’s another sign of businesses bouncing back from the depths of the pandemic recession, even with soaring coronavirus cases and a full economic recovery still far off.

Data: National Association for Business Economics quarterly survey of 97 panelists from private sector companies and industry trade associations; Chart: Axios Visuals
  • More companies said profits margins were rising (30%) versus falling (16%), compared to the 21% and 25% respectively reported in the previous survey released in October. 53% reported no change.

What they’re saying: “Momentum has continued to build, and survey respondents seem much more positive about the future today,” Manuel Balmaseda, chief economist at materials supplier CEMEX and NABE president, said in a release.

Other findings: An index measuring businesses’ plans to add workers over the next three months jumped 20 points to the highest level since Q2 2019.

  • The net number of respondents reporting higher prices charged for products surged 14 points from October, largely because of higher prices charged by goods-producing firms.
  • Most (60%) expect prices charged to hold steady over the next three months. 35% expect prices to rise, compared to 26% that said so in the last survey.
  • A gauge for the number of firms reporting more expensive materials tripled in the latest survey.

Worth noting: Almost half (46%) of respondents said neither the vaccine rollout or the Biden administration impacted expectations for company sales, hiring or capital spending expectations.

  • But 37% said it impacts their outlook positively, while 5% said there’s a negative effect.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jan 29, 2021 - Economy & Business

Chevron posts another quarterly loss under weight of pandemic

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Chevron posted another quarterly loss Friday in the latest sign of how the pandemic is still weighing on oil companies despite some price recovery during the second half of the year.

Driving the news: The oil giant reported a $665 million loss for the October-December period, but it shrinks to $11 million on an adjusted basis after considering charges on its acquisition of Noble Energy and "foreign currency effects."

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
45 mins ago - Economy & Business

The Fed could be firing up economic stimulus in disguise

Federal Reserve governor Lael Brainard at a "Fed Listens" event. Photo: Eric Baradat / AFP via Getty Images.

Even as global growth expectations increase and governments pile on fiscal spending measures central bankers are quietly restarting recession-era bond-buying programs.

Driving the news: Comments Tuesday from Fed governor Lael Brainard suggest the Fed may be jumping onboard the global monetary policy rethink and restarting a program used following the 2008 global financial crisis.

Democrats' hypocrisy moment

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Ray Tamarra/Getty Images

Gov. Andrew Cuomo should be facing explicit calls to resign from President Biden on down, if you apply the standard that Democrats set for similar allegations against Republicans. And it's not a close call.

Why it matters: The #MeToo moment saw men in power run out of town for exploiting young women. Democrats led the charge. So the silence of so many of them seems more strange — and unacceptable by their own standards — by the hour.