MOSCOW: Russian consumer confidence rose during the fourth quarter of 2009 but has yet to reach "neutral" levels, according to the State Statistics Service.

The survey showed 20% more people believed that economic conditions are improving, compared to those who think things are getting worse.

Over the third quarter of last year, this "negative balance" stood at 25%.

On the index, sentiment was largely neutral between mid-2006 and mid-2008, with results ranging from a positive balance of 1% to a negative balance of 5%.

However, the Russian economy has suffered from the global economic downturn over the months since.

Stock prices have fallen and the rouble has weakened, while lower commodities prices have also damaged revenues from exports.

However, Russian GDP returned to growth over the third quarter of last year.

Mark Rubenstein, deputy head of research at Metropol, an investment group, said that Russian consumer confidence is now keyed in to the strength of the nation's recovery from the global downturn.

"In the fourth quarter, we saw clear signs of macroeconomic improvements," Rubenstein added.

Consumers were also questioned about their personal financial situation by the State Statistics Service, with 13% expecting future improvements, up from 11% in the previous quarter.

The organisation said: "The improvement in the index was accompanied by positive changes in all its components, but the most notable growth was seen in the indexes of expected and past developments in the country's economy."

Data sourced from The Moscow Times/Reuters; additional content by Warc staff