Small biz optimism rose in April but is still weak

Small business owners recovered some of their optimism during April, but they're still wary about the economy.

The National Federation of Independent Business says its index of small business optimism rose 2 points last month to 94.5. That makes up for the 2 points lost in March, but only returns the index to its February 2011 level. William Dunkelberg, the NFIB's chief economist, still classifies the reading as weak.

Dunkelberg says owners' plans to hire rose during April. But he notes that news about the economy and Europe's debt crisis is still bad. He predicts only small improvements in hiring, optimism and spending for the rest of the year.

The index was compiled from a survey of NFIB members. The group represents and lobbies on behalf of 350,000 business owners.