Small business owners' optimism is looking a lot like the economy moving along at an unspectacular pace.

A survey by Wells Fargo and Gallup shows owners aren't quite as optimistic as they were during the spring about the economy but are generally confident about their companies.

The Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index registered at 59 in early July, compared with 64 in April, an insignificant change, the bank said. Sixty-five percent of the 600 owners in the survey described their financial situation as good, unchanged from April.

The survey was in line with others showing a dip in optimism about the economy, but that owners feel confident about their companies. A semi-annual survey released by the advocacy group National Small Business Association last month showed nearly three-quarters of the 625 owners questioned are confident, unchanged from late last year. Three-quarters expect the economy to be flat or recessionary in the next year.

The economy's performance has contributed to owners' not enthusiastic but not morose view of business conditions. It grew at an annual rate of 2.3 percent in the second quarter after rising 0.6 percent due to harsh winter weather the first three months of the year.

Owners' upbeat attitude about their companies has encouraged more of them to borrow, according to a report released last week by Thomson Reuters and PayNet. The two companies saw a 9 percent increase in borrowing on loans and leases in June. But they're cautious in their hiring, adding fewer jobs in July than they did during the spring.

Another report on optimism, this one from venture capitalists who fund startups in Silicon Valley, also showed optimism slipping, but for different reasons. The Silicon Valley Venture Capitalist Conference Index fell to 3.73 on a five-point scale from 3.81 in the first quarter.

Some of the venture capitalists surveyed said they were concerned that the prices companies could be sold for will fall when interest rates start to rise. Some were also concerned that prices are being driven too high as non-professional investors enter the venture capital market. Either way, the survey showed that venture capitalists are concerned about the returns they're going to get on their own investments.


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