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Wells Fargo poll: Small-biz owners no longer optimistic

A new survey by Wells Fargo and Gallop finds that small-business owners are no longer optimistic about the future. The index dipped into negative numbers for the first time since the poll was started six years ago.

Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf told shareholders last week that pessimists will find a lot to like about 2009.

But the ranks of pessimists now includes more small-business owners than any time in at least six years, according to a new Wells Fargo Gallop survey. And they certainly aren’t finding much to like about this year.

The Wells Fargo/Gallop Small Business Index has been measuring entrepreneurs’ optimism since 2003. For the first time, the index dropped into negative territory.

“These clearly are difficult times for many small businesses,” Wells Fargo senior economist Scott Anderson said in the company’s statement.

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The index now stands at -4, down from a peak of 114 in November 2006. The survey period was Jan. 22 to Feb. 2.