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Small-business owners' confidence fell this month as more business owners saw economic conditions deteriorating, according to a monthly survey Discover Financial Services sponsors. The decline comes after three consecutive months of improved confidence. The Discover Small Business Watch index in May fell more than 10 points to 78.1, down from 88.5 in April. The Watch is a monthly report measuring the relative economic confidence among 750 small-business owners based on their responses to six questions in a telephone survey. Its creators established a base index of 100 when the Watch began in August 2006. Some 49% of small-business owners in May said they had experienced temporary cash-flow problems in the past 90 days, compared with 39% who said so last month. Forty-eight percent of respondents said economic conditions for their businesses were getting worse, up from 40% last month. Only 24% of business owners said they see improving business conditions, down from 32% last month. Some 57% of respondents said they believe the economy as a whole is getting worse, up from 51% who said so in April, while 23% said they believe the economy is getting better, down from 31% who said so last month. Fifty-three percent of small-business owners said they plan to decrease spending on business development over the next six months, up from 46% who said so last month. Small-business owners also said they are spending more time working. The number of respondents who said they work more than 10 hours each day jumped to 39% in May from 30% a year earlier. Some 61% of small-business owners said they work six days per week or more, compared with 45% who said so last year and 43% in 2007.

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