NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ Small business owners are starting 2013 with low expectations for the economy and their companies. That's the finding of a survey released Tuesday by the National Federation of Independent Business. The lobbying group's Small Business Optimism Index rose 0.9 points to 88.9 in January, but remains at a level that points to continuing pessimism among business owners. The survey questioned more than 2,000 NFIB members. The NFIB's chief economist, William Dunkelberg, noted that the survey was taken after the government reported that the economy contracted during the fourth quarter. Uncertainty about the economy has kept many small business owners from hiring, borrowing and expanding over the past year. Owners are worried about their companies. Nineteen percent of the survey participants said weak sales are their biggest problem.