More small-business owners believe financial conditions are improving, according to a monthly survey Discover Financial Services sponsors. The findings show the highest economic confidence among small businesses since August 2008. "Small-business owners are far less bleak about the direction of the overall economy than they have been in months," Ryan Scully, director of Discover's business credit card, said of the Discover Small Business Watch March report. The monthly index increased more than six points, rising to 78.2 from 71.9 in February. The Watch is a monthly report measuring relative economic confidence of 1,000 randomly selected small-business owners based on their responses to six questions. Its creators established a base index of 100 when the Watch began in August 2006. Some 60% of small-business owners surveyed by telephone from March 14 to 16 said the economy is getting worse, down from 69% who said so the previous month. Owners who see the economy getting better rose to 16% from 12%. Twenty-four percent of owners see economic conditions for their businesses improving–the highest percentage in nine months–up from 19% in February, according to the report. Likewise, 47% of respondents see conditions getting worse, down from 54% in February. Small-business owners' views of the current economy remained constant, with 90% rating the economy as fair or poor in both February and March. Some 48% of owners said they plan to decrease spending on business development over the next six months, a decrease from 51% in February, while 21% plan to increase spending and 29% will make no changes, according to the report.

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