Heavy winter weather in February didn't hurt the National Federation of Independent Business's small business optimism index, which edged 1/10th higher to 98.0.

The strongest component right now, and the one that gained the most in the latest report, is job openings hard to fill. The gain here points to lack of slack in the jobs market, at least for skilled workers.

The second strongest component, plans to increase capital outlays, shows no change, but the level does point to business confidence and the need to hire in future months.

Most readings in the report show very little change, with inflation readings showing no pressure and credit needs at an historic low.

The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index fell back from the prior month's very strong reading, to a still respectable 97.9 in January from December's nine-year high of 100.4.

Meanwhile, the Bank of America monthly business survey shows that consumer spending slowed in February.

"Consumer spending remained sluggish in February, according to the Bank of America card data,” the report says.