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Small business optimism rises to six-month high

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A gauge of confidence for small businesses rose in April to its highest in six months, a sign of resilience in an economy beset by Washington's austerity drive.

The National Federation of Independent Business said on Tuesday its Small Business Optimism Index rose 2.6 points to 92.1, the highest reading since October.

About half the gain was because businesses expect better business conditions over the next six months. Firms also were more optimistic about creating jobs and about sales.

Economic growth is being crimped this year by tax hikes enacted in January and federal budget cuts that started in March. Congress and President Barack Obama agreed to the measures in a bid to tame the federal budget deficit.

Offsetting some of austerity's bite, the U.S. Federal Reserve has kept interest rates exceptionally low, while falling gasoline prices have recently helped household finances.

The NFIB reported earlier this month that small businesses added workers in April.

(Reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

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