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Small businesses are waving a caution flag

BROOKLINE, MA - NOVEMBER 25: #ShopSmall stickers are pictured at the Boston General Store in Coolidge Corner in Brookline, MA on Small Business Saturday
Photo: Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

"After a banner year, many small businesses are becoming more cautious about their investment and hiring plans," The Wall Street Journal's Ruth Simon reports.

By the numbers: "Economic confidence among small firms, which edged downward for much of 2018, in January reached its lowest level since President Trump’s election, according to a monthly survey of 765 small firms for The Wall Street Journal by Vistage Worldwide. ... Just 14% of firms expect the economy to improve this year, while 36% expect it to get worse."

Why it matters: "We could be at a turning point," said Richard Curtin, a University of Michigan economist who analyzed the data, told the Journal. "Recessions are not made of one firm collapsing, but of many firms cutting back in marginal ways."

Go deeper: Consumer sentiment at lowest levels since Trump elected