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Mass. business confidence up slightly in December

BOSTON (AP) -- A monthly survey of Massachusetts businesses showed a slight boost in confidence in December, but employers were still less optimistic at the end of 2012 than at the close of the previous year.

Associated Industries of Massachusetts said Tuesday that its business confidence index rose by one point from November to 47.8. The index works on a scale of 100, with a reading below 50 meaning that employers are generally more pessimistic than optimistic about the business climate.

Economist Raymond Torto says the survey was complete prior to the "fiscal cliff" agreement in Washington, but the slight uptick may have reflected the hope that a deal would be struck.

Torto says the index is down more than 3 points from December 2011, reflecting continued concern about the overall direction of the economy.