Small business optimism at record high levels. Home Depot reports blowout earnings. Strong economic growth forecast for 2018.

Small business owners continue to express optimism due in part to a strong U.S. economy. The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index rose to its second highest level in the survey’s 45-year history to 107.9 in July, just a whisker away from its record-high of 108 set back in July 1983. Small businesses are one of the backbones of the U.S. economy and employ millions of Americans. “Small business owners are leading this economy and expressing optimism rivaling the highest levels in history,” said NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan. “Expansion continues to be a priority for small businesses who show no signs of slowing as they anticipate more sales and better business conditions.”

The world’s largest home improvement center, Home Depot, posted blowout earnings in its latest quarter due in part to strong home-improvement activity and a robust U.S. economy in the second quarter. Home Depot reported earnings per share of $3.05 versus the $2.84 expected while revenues came in at $30.46 billion, above the $30.03 billion expected. A slow start to the spring season, due to cooler weather pushed shoppers to purchase their spring gardening needs in the second quarter. The company has raised its earnings forecast for the full year.

The Congressional Budget office (CBO) reports that economic growth will be strong in 2018 but will ease in 2019 as fiscal stimulus eases. The CBO predicts that Gross Domestic Product will grow 3.1% in 2018, above the 2.2% recorded in 2017 due to increased government spending, reduction in taxes, and faster growth in private investment. The CBO went on to say that in 2019, the pace of GDP growth slows to 2.4% in the agency’s forecast as growth in business investment and government purchases slows.