Buoyed by a robust stock market, stabilizing unemployment and incrementally improving corporate earnings, senior executives at the nation's largest banks, brokerages and securities firms are more optimistic about the U.S. economy's overall prospects than they've been in years.

According to a survey conducted by Grant Thornton LLP, 72% of banking executives said they believe the U.S. economy will improve in the next six months -- a significantly higher overall sense of optimism than the 64% confidence figure reported by all business leaders.

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