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Economy looking healthier to small business owners

NEW YORK (AP) -- The economy is looking healthier in the eyes of small business owners, according to a survey released Tuesday.

The Citibank Small Business Pulse shows that 48 percent of owners rate business conditions as good or excellent. That's up from 43 percent a year ago, and twice the 24 percent of three years ago, when the bank began conducting the survey. The number of owners who see business conditions as poor fell to 14 percent, the lowest since the survey's inception.

Small business owners are also upbeat about their own companies. Half say they expect their revenue to rise this year, and 54 percent expect 2014 to be even better.

Twenty-six percent of the owners surveyed said they plan to hire full-time employees in the next 12 months, up from 15 percent last summer. Only 5 percent said they planned to cut their staffs.

The survey, which questioned 750 small business owners during May, follows the trend of others in recent months that have shown that owners are gradually becoming more optimistic about the economy and their companies.

On Monday, Capital One released a survey in which 45 percent of the owners polled said they expect their financial positions to be better in six months. That's up 7 percentage points from Capital One's last survey, taken during the fourth quarter.