Small-business owners do not expect any major improvement in the economy in the next few months, according to data from Discover Financial Services.

The Riverwoods, Ill., credit card company's monthly Small Business Watch index inched downward to 84.9 in February, from 85.5 in January. The index stood at 71.9 in February of last year, and was pegged at 100 when it was created in 2006.

Thirty-one percent of small-business owners said this month that they think the economy is improving, unchanged from last month, while 44% think it is getting worse, compared with 46% in January.

The respondents are more concerned about their own businesses; 25% said they expect conditions to improve in the next six months, down from 29% in January, though 37% said they expect their own results to decline compared with 43% in January.

"Compared to a year ago, small-business owners are more confident about their businesses and the direction of the economy," Ryan Scully, Discover's director of business credit cards, said in a press release this week. "But challenges still remain for most of this segment, as 71% say that the current economic environment has hurt their business."

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