The financial posture of small businesses is beginning to improve, several recent studies suggest. The credit quality of small businesses jumped 4.5 percent in the first quarter of 2013, according to a report by Experian and Moody’s Analytics. A report from Sageworks showed the average risk of business loan default dropped from 5.1 percent to 4.1 percent since last April, and the average length of time firms need to pay off debt is declining.

Are lenders paying attention? Small-business owners should temper their optimism, according to Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics.

“Small-business credit conditions are improving, but only slowly and unevenly across the country,” he said, pointing out that credit quality has not recovered on the East Coast nearly as fast as it has out West.

Consumers cut spending

Consumer spending dropped 0.2 percent in April on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the Commerce Department, representing the first decline since last May.

Despite the decline, consumer confidence reached a five-year high this May, based on a survey conducted by the Conference Board, a New York-based private research group, suggesting optimism is returning to the marketplace.

House chairman asks if IRS targeted small businesses

House Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-Mo.) is questioning whether the Internal Revenue Service, recently accused of flagging conservative groups for audits, also inappropriately targeted small businesses.

“These investigations have only raised more questions as to the extent these practices may have extended beyond conservative groups,” Graves wrote in a letter to Daniel Werfel, acting commissioner of the IRS.

Council committee rejects food truck regulations

The D.C. Council’s Committee on Business, Consumer and Regulatory Affairs recommended on Friday that the city reject proposed regulations on food trucks that would permit them to operate only in particular zones and would ration spots by lottery.

The proposal has drawn criticism from food truck owners in the area, who have launched a public campaign to “Save D.C. Food Trucks,” organizing rallies, placing ads on buses and handing out stickers. Others, such the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington, have supported the new rules to help brick-and-mortar eateries.