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CEO Expectations for U.S. Economy Climb on Sales, Hiring Outlook

More U.S. chief executive officers project a pickup in sales, capital spending and hiring in the next six months, a survey showed.

The Business Roundtable’s economic outlook index climbed to 84.5 in the fourth quarter from 79.1 in the previous three months, the Washington-based trade group said today. Readings greater than 50 are consistent with economic expansion, and the group said the index’s long-term average is 79.4.

“Our expectations are consistent with an economy that will continue along the path of steady, modest recovery into the first half of 2014,” said Jim McNerney, chairman of the Business Roundtable and CEO of Boeing Co. “These soundings are also consistent with an overall economy that, despite progress, is not yet performing at its full potential.”

Seventy-three percent of respondents project an increase in sales in the next six months, up from 71 percent in the third quarter. The share expecting increased business investment in the next six months jumped to 39 percent in the fourth quarter from 27 percent in the previous three months.

Thirty-four percent of corporate leaders plan to boost payrolls, up from 32 percent in the third quarter.

The survey, completed between Nov. 4 and Nov. 21, tabulated the responses of 120 CEOs who belong to the Business Roundtable. The group’s members represent companies with a combined workforce of more than 16 million employees and about $7.4 trillion in annual revenue.

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