Small-business owners' confidence in the economy rose slightly this month as their cash flow improved, according to Discover Financial Services.

The Riverwoods, Ill., credit card company's Small Business Watch inched upward to 73.8 from 73 in August, reversing a three month decline. The monthly index was pegged at 100 when it was created in 2006.

About 57% of respondents in September said the economy is getting worse, down from 62% who said that in August. And 46% of small-business owners reported having cash flow issues in September, down from 53% in August.

Still, there were signs of concern. A record 68% of small-business owners rated the economy as poor, up from 62% in August; 26% said the economy is fair, 4% said good and 2% said it is excellent.

And 16% of owners, another record low, said they plan to increase spending, down from 17% in August, and 57% said they plan to decrease spending in the coming month, up from 52% in August.

A majority, 51%, of small-business owners said that a 100% tax break for capital investments would not help them, while 26% said it would and 23% were unsure. Only 20% said they needed a loan, while 71% said they did not; 9% were unsure.

Both measures are being discussed in Washington.

"While the recession is technically over, large numbers of small-business owners say they won't see true recovery for at least six more months," Ryan Scully, Discover's business card director, said in a press release Monday.

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