The omicron variant and rising prices have taken a toll on both overall economic activity and consumer and business confidence over the past three months, according to the latest proprietary RSM US Middle Market Business Index. The top-line middle market business index eased to 125.1 in the first quarter of the year from 130 in the final quarter of last year. Both of those figures were below the all-time high of 143.8 posted in the third quarter of last year.
Despite the decline in the overall index, the current reading reflects strong business conditions across the real economy. However, the sampling period occurred prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing price shocks, which we expect will dampen business conditions in the second quarter of the year.