April 3, 2007 -- Uncertainties in the housing market had small-business owners feeling less optimistic about the economy this year, Wells Fargo reported on Tuesday.

Based on a survey of 600 small employers nationwide, the Wells Fargo/Gallup small-business index fell four points to 110 over the first quarter, following a record 114 in the last three months of 2006, the San Francisco-based lender said.

The index gauges employers' assessments of six key components, including the financial situation, cash flow, revenues, capital allocation, hiring, and credit.  

"The slight drop in small-business owner confidence was evident in both the present situation and future expectations components of the index, suggesting weaker current and future conditions than the last quarter of 2006," Scott Anderson, the chief economist at Wells Fargo, said in a statement.

Anderson blamed the downturn on the combined pressures of high gas prices, resetting mortgage rates, and moderating home prices.

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