Feb. 28, 2007 -- The mood of the nation's small-business owners edged down by less than a point in February, as a brighter outlook on the economy was offset by concerns over cash flow, according to the Discover Card.

Based on a survey of 1,000 owners nationwide, Discover's small-business confidence index dropped to 113.4, from 114.3 in January. The monthly gauge's base value is 100.

Of those polled, 40 percent cited cash flow as a growing concern in February, compared to just 24 percent the previous month, the report said.

Yet, despite those worries, 17 percent planned to expand employment, while 39 percent spent more on business development, the report said.

"Economic confidence appears to be steady," Sastry Rachakonda, director of Discover's small-business card, said in a statement. "However, cash flow is something to keep an eye on when it comes to small-business indicators."

Smaller businesses are among the first to feel the impact of broader shifts in the economy, and as such are an important measure of the nation's economic well-being, Rachakonda said.

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Published on: Feb 28, 2007