U.S. CEOs More Optimistic on Sales, Capital Spending

The chief executive officers of major U.S. companies are feeling much more optimistic about the economy’s recovery, with sharply more CEOs expecting improvement in sales, capital investments and hiring in the first quarter compared to the final months of last year.
The Business Roundtable said today that it’s Economic Outlook Survey Index – a composite of CEO expectations for the next six months – increased significantly to 96.9 in the first quarter of 2012, from 77.9 in the fourth quarter of 2011.
Business Roundtable members estimate real GDP will grow by 2.3 percent in 2012, up from last quarter’s estimate of 2.0.
“Several factors, among them oil prices, a sluggish European economy, political uncertainty in the United States, and questions about future growth in Asia, remain as potential obstacles to higher rates of economic growth in the United States,” said Jim McNerney, Chairman of Business Roundtable and Chairman, President and CEO of The Boeing Company.
A survey of its CEO members found that 42 percent expect to hire over the next six months. That’s up from 35 percent three months ago.
Nearly half plan to spend more on machinery and other capital equipment, while more than 80 percent expect their sales to increase. Both those figures are much higher than those for the fourth quarter.
The group is an association of the leaders of the 200 biggest U.S. companies.

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