Small business confidence dipped slightly in May for the third consecutive monthly decline since February, according to the latest reading from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.The group’s index dropped a third of a point to 62.1 from April’s 62.4. Measured on a scale of 0 and 100, an index above 50 means owners expecting a stronger showing in the next year outnumber those expecting a weaker performance.The CFIB says small business owners in Alberta are the most optimistic, with an index of 68.8, followed by Newfoundland and Labrador at 68.3, Saskatchewan at 65.8 and B.C. at 64.9.Ontario (61.9), and Manitoba (61.0) are slightly below the national average, while New Brunswick (58.1) and Prince Edward Island (55.6) are further back.The Quebec reading fell five points to 58.9 and Nova Scotia is last on the scale with an index of 50.CFIB chief economist Ted Mallett said manufacturing, transportation and hospitality are the weakest sectors this month while the information and financial services sectors are above the norm.Despite a reasonably good outlook for employment and capital investment, there are other general signs of sluggishness. Wage and price expectations are tempering, while there is greater concern about levels of customer demand and the state of order books, he noted.“The index is now at its lowest point since the summer of 2012, when the economy went through a slow-motion act,” Mr. Mallett said. “Canadian small business optimism remains cool this spring.”The May findings are based on 1,054 responses, collected from a random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey.