Discover Financial Services
reported its first increase in six months in small-business owners' confidence
in the economy.
The Riverwoods, Ill.,
company said Monday that its Small Business Watch index climbed 4.6 points this
month from last month, to 90.9, and that many respondents expect the
government's efforts to boost the economy to help their business.
The index, which was
pegged at 100 at its inception in August 2006, had been sliding since hitting
107.3 in July.
The percentage of
respondents who said the economy is getting worse fell 7 points from January, to
67%. The percentage who said they expect business conditions to improve over the
next six months rose 3 points, to 34%, and the percentage who plan to spend more
to expand their companies rose 5 points, to 33%.
The survey of 1,000
small-business owners found that respondents expect more benefit from lower
interest rates than from the stimulus package the government hopes will spur
consumer spending. Fifty-nine percent of respondents said the package would have
no significant impact on their businesses, 12% said it would affect their
businesses, and 29% said they were not certain.
are seeing some of the larger efforts being made to improve the economy, such as
the Fed interest rate cuts and slowing down of downward momentum, so they appear
to be less apprehensive," Sastry Rachakonda, Discover's director of business
credit cards, said in a press release.