After three months trending upward, the short-term and mid-term ACIs both retrenched slightly in the first month of the year -- though they remained comfortably in positive territory.

The ACI, published 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. The 3-Month ACI came in at 51.70, down from last month's 52.3. The 6-Month ACI, meanwhile, dropped to 54.22, down from last month's 55.14. Both figures, though, were above the 50 mark that separates expectations of growth from expectations of contraction

The index components were mixed, with our respondents expressing serious concern about the prospects for their midsized business clients, but some optimism for their large business clients.

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.