President Barack Obama is getting a bump in his approval ratings from an improving economy but Americans want him to focus on reducing debt and spending, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed yesterday.

The poll found reasons for optimism for Obama as he searches for areas of compromise with newly emboldened Republicans this year and lays the groundwork for his 2012 re-election bid.
Obama’s job approval rating went up to 50 percent from 45 percent in December, the first time Obama has achieved 50 percent approval in this poll since last June.

Still, many Americans still do not approve of his job performance — 47 percent disapproved of him in this poll, compared to 46 percent in December.

With the economy showing signs of picking up its pace of growth, more Americans are likely to say the country is on the right track — 36 percent in January, up from 29 percent in December. But 59 percent of Americans still said the country is on the wrong track.

Obama had a good month in December as Congress approved key bills he supported, like an extension of Bush-era tax cuts, the START nuclear treaty with Russia and an end to a ban on gays serving openly in the military.