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The stock market has been rebounding, consumer confidence is up and business owners are expressing unusual optimism. The U.S. economy might not be past its rut yet, but Discover Small Business Watch's monthly report indicates that economic confidence among the entrepreneurs it surveys saw its biggest jump in nine months.

"Increased confidence in economic conditions is definitely a bright spot in an otherwise bleak business environment," states Ryan Scully, director of Discover's business credit card. "Small-business owners are far less bleak about the direction of the overall economy than they have been in months." Discover's entrepreneurial confidence index rose to 78.2 in March, up from 71.9 in February. Business owners who believe the economy is improving rose to 16 percent from 12 percent last month.

Entrepreneurs who say conditions for their own businesses are improving rose from 19 percent last month to 24 percent in March. But the percentage of folks--90 percent--who rated the economy as fair or poor remained unchanged.

Discover also reported that "85 percent of small-business owners said their income would fall below $250,000 and would not be subject to a tax increase proposed in the Obama administration's new budget." And 74 percent of entrepreneurs surveyed pay their taxes as individuals instead of as businesses.

The owners surveyed ranked "self-employment tax" as their most frustrating tax burden.

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