BOULDER - While sales and profit outlooks tapered slightly, Colorado business leaders' overall confidence improved a bit going into the first quarter of 2014.

That's according to the latest Leeds Business Confidence Index, or LBCI, released Thursday by the University of Colorado Boulder's Leeds School of Business.

The first-quarter LBCI was 59.9, up from 59.3 entering the fourth quarter of 2013. Expectations were positive (at 50 or higher) for all of the metrics measured by the index, including the national economy, state economy, industry sales, industry profits, capital expenditures and hiring plans.

The numbers released Thursday mark nine consecutive quarters of positive expectations in the report that has been conducted quarterly by the Leeds School's Business Research Division for 10 years.

"The sustained confidence over the past several quarters now ties the record for optimism set from 2003 to 2005," economist Richard Wobbekind, executive director of the Business Research Division, said in a press release. "Strong signals from the market are keeping confidence up including the acceleration of GDP (gross domestic product) growth, employment gains and a federal budget compromise."

Both profit and sales expectations remained positive, despite dipping from the fourth quarter of 2013. Business leaders' sales expectations logged a reading of 61.2, down from 62.0, while the profits reading fell from 59.3 to 57.9.

Those same leaders' confidence showed the biggest jump as it related to the national economy, going from 55.5 to 57.4. Confidence in the state economy outpaced confidence in the national economy for the 35th quarter in a row, up to 64.8 from 63.9.

The hiring plans index also enjoyed a nice boost, from 57.8 to 59.3, as all of the state's metropolitan areas saw growth in November versus a year earlier.