The April installment of our Accountants Confidence Index breaks the declining trend that marked the start of 2012, with a slight uptick.

The ACI, created in partnership with ADP, is a monthly economic indicator that leverages the insights of accountants into the strength and prospects of businesses in the U.S. Both the 3-Month and 6-Month ACI readings for this month moved up slightly.

Interestingly, the ERC foresaw a short-term contraction for small firms -- only the second they've predicted since tracking began -- but most of the other index components moved up slightly.

We also asked our panel what sort of niche practices they're moving into -- their answers are below.

The ACI is created from a monthly poll of the Accounting Today Executive Research Council, an online community of more than 1,500 tax and accounting professionals, who are asked to provide their estimates of the growth prospects of their own firms, their small, midsized and large business clients, and of the U.S. economy as a whole. Their responses are weighted and averaged to produce the ACI.