NEW YORK (AP) _ A nearly two-thirds majority of respondents to a poll published today believes a strong Soviet economy is to America's advantage, and only one- quarter sees benefits for this country in a weak Soviet economy.

The NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll of 1,006 registered voters nationwide was taken Saturday through Tuesday.

In a historic reversal, 44 percent said they think the United States is stronger militarily than the Soviet Union, 9 percent said the Soviet Union is stronger, 43 percent said they are about equal and 4 percent didn't know.

Less than a decade ago, in May 1982, only 11 percent thought the United States was stronger and 41 percent thought the Soviet Union was stronger.

A 51 percent majority in the new poll said the United States should help the Soviet Union in strengthening its economy, but 38 percent disagreed and 7 percent said it depends on circumstances.

''My impression from this is that the American people are very much in line with the president,'' said Mary Klette, director of elections and polling for NBC News. ''They feel that a strong economy in the Soviet Union is important but they don't want to give direct aid to the Soviets.''

About three-quarters of those polled approve of the job Bush is doing, meaning his rating has not slipped much from the historic highs it reached during the war.

''It's still astronomically high. He's got everything going for him right now except the economy,'' Klette said. On handling the economy, 47 percent said they approve of the job Bush is doing and 48 percent disapprove.

The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.