Americans’ outlook on the current condition of the national and local economies has improved somewhat, a survey of 2,002 adults conducted by Hart Research Associates for Citibank shows.

Sixty-three percent are optimistic that local business conditions will improve over the next 12 months, up from 52% who were optimistic in September.

Although a large majority, 76%, believe current conditions are either fair or poor, 24% think current conditions are good or excellent, up from 21% in September.

The survey is part of the Citibank Economic Pulse, a quarterly survey of Americans’ attitudes toward the economy begun in 2009.

The Pulse, which is comprised of eight survey questions, moved up eight points, the largest quarterly move since the beginning of the survey, but it remains in negative territory at -6.

All eight components of the Pulse moved up, with the largest gains in Americans’ future expectations for the economy.

The survey also showed that 70% are optimistic that their personal financial situation will improve this year, up from 64%. Those who are pessimistic declined to 27% from 31% in September.

The percentage of Americans who believe it is a good time to make a major purchase, such as furniture, an automobile or a television, rose to 36%, up from 32%, while the number of those who think it is only a fair or poor time to make such a purchase fell to 62% from 66%.

The outlook on job opportunities has also improved somewhat, with 16% saying that employment opportunities are excellent or good, up from 14%. Likewise, those who think it is a poor time to look for a job declined from 51% to 45%.

“For the first time in a year, the survey has revealed clear signs that consumers are starting to see light on the horizon,” said Michelle Peluso, chief global consumer marketing and Internet officer at Citi.

Nonetheless, Americans’ have been deeply impacted by the recession, Peluso said. “While Americans are positive about their own future, they continue to have concerns about the broader economy,” she said. “The downturn’s impact on priorities and behavior has been profound and appears to be more permanent than in previous recessions that were shorter and not as deep.”

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