Small-business owners are showing improved confidence in the economy, according to Discover Financial Services.

The Riverwoods, Ill., card company said Monday that its monthly Small Business Watch index rose to 89.8 in August, up from 82.1 in July and its highest level since it hit 90.9 in February 2008. The index was pegged at 100 when it was created in 2006.

The share of small-business owners who say the economy is getting better grew to 38% last month, from 30% in July. And 27% of small-business owners said they plan to increase spending on business development, including advertising, inventory and capital expenditures, up from 23% in July.

"For the past few months, small-business owners have shown rising confidence in the overall economy as well as an increasing sense that the conditions for their own businesses are improving," Ryan Scully, Discover's business credit card director, said in a press release. "This month we have a few more signs that they may be ready to start trying to grow their businesses again and that the worst may be over."

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