Small business owners across the country believe economic conditions have held steady throughout 2012, and 45 percent believe the U.S. economy will remain about the same next year, according to a new survey.

The quarterly survey, by Capital One found that optimism outweighs pessimism by five points among those businesses that expect to see change, with 29 percent expecting to see economic conditions improve, compared to 24 percent who expect conditions to worsen over the next six months. The survey suggests, however, a growing level of caution about the economy as only 27 percent of the businesses surveyed reported plans to hire in the next six months, a drop of 10 points in a single quarter.

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