Despite uncertainties on Wall Street, the nation's small-business owners remained optimistic about the economy last month, the National Federation of Independent Business reported Tuesday.

Based on a national survey of its 600,000 members, seven of 10 components of the group's small-business optimism index improved slightly in July, including hiring plans, sales, and earnings, the report said. Expected credit conditions held steady, while current job openings and capital spending declined. Overall, the index rose 1.6 points to 97.6, below its benchmark level of 100.

"Unlike the highly publicized mortgage and private-equity mess, there were no indications of credit stress in July, even in construction," William Dunkelberg, the group's chief economist, said in a statement.

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