Survey says business owners are more optimistic

NEW YORK (AP) — Small business owners have had a boost in optimism during the third quarter as the economy continues its gradual recovery.

That's the finding of a survey of small business owners by Wells Fargo & Co. and Gallup. The Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index rose to 25, up 9 points from the second quarter and 36 from the end of 2012, when it was in negative territory. It was compiled from interviews with 602 business owners during July.

The survey is in line with other recent surveys, including one by the advocacy group National Small Business Association, that show owners are regaining their confidence in the economy and their companies.

A big contributor to their growing optimism is the recovering housing market, the Wells Fargo/Gallup survey shows. Fifty-seven percent of the owners surveyed said they have seen an improvement in the market for homes in their area.

Owners are also more optimistic about their ability to get credit. Twenty-eight percent of those surveyed said they expect credit to be easy to obtain in the next year, up from 24 percent in the second quarter of 2013 and the highest percentage since 2009, during the recession.

But they also showed that they're still cautious about hiring, a finding similar to other surveys. The Wells Fargo/Gallup survey found that 18 percent expect to add jobs during the next 12 months, down from 20 percent in the second quarter. But 12 percent said they plan to cut jobs, down from 14 percent. More than two-thirds said they'll keep their staffing levels stable.

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