Signaling their optimism about the state of the economy, many bankers are predicting that problem loans will moderate and consumer lending will perk up over the next six months, according to a new FICO survey released Tuesday.

In its latest quarterly survey of bank risk professionals, FICO found that 65% of respondents expect mortgage loan delinquencies to decrease or stay the same over the next six months and 72% expect fewer or the same number of small-business loans to sour.

The responses are the most positive to come from risk managers since Minneapolis-based FICO began conducting the survey on credit trends in early 2010. In a similar survey it took early in the fourth quarter, just 53% of respondents predicted that mortgage delinquencies would drop or stay roughly the same and only 61% expected improvement in the pace of small-business delinquencies.

Risk managers also predict delinquency levels to moderate on car loans and credit card loans.

“As unemployment falls, even modestly, and four years of deleveraging begin to pay dividends, bankers are allowing themselves to feel some optimism,” Andrew Jennings, the chief analytics officer at FICO, said in a news release.

The survey was conducted for FICO by the Professional Risk Managers’ International Association.

Bankers also are more optimistic about the availability of credit, particularly for car and credit card loans. Seventy-seven percent said they expect supply to meet demand for car loans and 71% predict that supply will satisfy demand for credit card loans.

They are less bullish on small-business and home lending, however. Only 52% said that supply will meet demand in small-business lending and just 44% are expecting supply will meet demand for home loans.

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