Capital expenditures, which ISM noted as a major driver in the U.S. economy, are expected to increase by 8 percent in the manufacturing sector and by 4.6 percent in the non-manufacturing sector.
Employment also is expected to grow — by 2.4 percent in the manufacturing sector and by 2.1 percent in non-manufacturing.
CAN Capital, an online small business lender, said it has seen a 28-percent increase in automotive repair shop funding since 2012.
"In 2012, we funded 458 auto shops between January and October and for the same time period this year we funded 588," said James Mendelsohn, chief marketing officer for CAN Capital, noting that a majority of the funding was earmarked for equipment purchases, working cap¬ital and inventory purchases.
"We've seen year-over-year increases in applications for small business loans," he said, "and we expect to see a comparable increase in 2014."
About 39 percent of Business Roundtable CEOs surveyed project higher capital spending in the next six months, up from 27 percent surveyed in the third quarter, while half expect spending to remain the same and 12 percent project a decline.
On employment, 34 percent of Business Roundtable member CEOs expect to add employees, while 45 percent expect employment to remain steady, with 22 percent projecting lower employment.
The positive predictions on spending is prompted in part by interest rates that are expected to remain low for the foreseeable future due to the combination of record-low credit losses and the Federal Reserve's commitment to retain current policies until more demonstrable economic improvement takes place, according to WalletHub.
"The Federal Reserve continues a totally unsustainable policy stance, with no real plan for how or when it will change course," said IU's Mr. Witte.
"All of this has created great uncertainty for consumers and greater uncertainty for businesses. Even with an improved financial situation, households remain reluctant to spend. Meanwhile, businesses sit on piles of cash, borrowing is cheap, yet investment spending is extremely disappointing."
The hostile political environment in Congress is seen as a millstone around the neck of the U.S. economy by some analysts.
Uncertainty over the Affordable Care Act, debate over increases in the minimum wage, and increased government regulations are considered disincentives to business hiring and investing.
Business Roundtable said that 39 percent of the CEOs surveyed said regulatory costs were the top cost pressure facing their businesses over the next six months followed by labor and health care costs. Regulatory costs have been the CEOs' top cost concern for the past three years, the Business Roundtable noted.
ISM survey respondents reported that the most challenging problems facing their businesses are: domestic sales growth; government regulations; healthcare cost; healthcare reform uncertainty; ongoing government shutdown and debt ceiling concerns; inflation; international sales growth; and taxes.
On the upside, gasoline prices are expected to be cheaper.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration expects retail gasoline will average $3.37 per gallon in 2014, down from roughly $3.50 in 2013 and $3.63 in 2012, helped in part by the surge in domestic shale natural gas drilling.
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