CEO confidence continues to improve: Report

One-half of CEOs surveyed expect hiring to increase

CEO confidence in the overall business outlook continues to improve, according to a survey from the Conference Board in the United States.

The Conference Board Measure of CEO Confidence found CEO confidence bounced back in the final quarter of 2010 and improved further in the first quarter of 2011. The measure now reads 67, up from 62 last quarter (a reading of more than 50 points reflects more positive than negative responses). Respondents included 100 CEOs from 10 industries in the United States.

"CEOs' confidence has improved, yet again, and expectations are that the economy will continue to expand in the coming months,” said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board’s consumer research centre. “As for the employment outlook, CEOs are more bullish than last year, with half now saying they intend to ramp up hiring."

CEOs' assessment of current economic conditions was much more upbeat, with 85 per cent of survey respondents saying conditions are better compared to six months ago, up from 56 per cent last quarter. In assessing their own industries, CEOs were also more positive. Nearly 61 per cent said conditions have improved, compared with 55 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2010.

CEOs' optimism about the short-term outlook continues to grow, found the survey. Sixty-six per cent of survey respondents expect an improvement in economic conditions over the next six months, up from 56 per cent last quarter. Expectations for their own industries, however, are slightly less optimistic, with 49 per cent of respondents expecting conditions to improve in the months ahead, down from 51 per cent last quarter.

One-half of survey respondents anticipate an increase in employment in their industry, up from 30 per cent one year ago. The proportion of respondents who anticipate a decrease in hiring declined to 16 per cent from 22 per cent one year ago, found the Conference Board.

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