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Chief Executives in U.S. More Confident on Economy, Survey Shows

Confidence among U.S. chief executive officers rose in the fourth quarter to the highest level since April 2012 as more business leaders projected gains in sales and employment, a private survey showed.

The Young Presidents’ Organization sentiment index climbed to 63.5 from 60.5 in the previous three months. Readings greater than 50 show the outlook was more positive than negative.

“Unlike the last four years of halting expansion, which was led by a recovery in housing, this time economists believe that all four sectors of the economy -- consumer spending, investment, trade and government spending -- will contribute to a growth pickup of 3 percent or more in 2014,” Stephen Slifer, YPO Global Pulse economic adviser and chief economist at NumberNomics LLC, said in a statement.

Fifty-two percent of executives surveyed said the economy has improved from six months ago, up from 38 percent who said so in October. Nine percent said the economy will worsen, down from 20 percent last quarter.

Gross domestic product, the value of all goods and services produced, expanded at a 3.2 percent annualized rate in the fourth quarter, according to Commerce Department data. Household purchases, which account for about 70 percent of the economy, grew 3.3 percent, the best performance since the end of 2010.

Fifty-eight percent of chief executives in the YPO survey expect conditions to improve in the next six months, up from 42 percent in the previous period.

The Dallas-based group’s outlooks for demand, hiring and capital investment also advanced. The gauge of sales expectations for the coming year rose by 2.9 points to 68.7. The employment index climbed to 59.9 from 58.9.

Globally, business confidence grew in most regions. The YPO’s Global Confidence Index also rose to the highest level since April 2012.

The nonprofit service organization’s findings for the U.S. are based on responses from 2,088 global chief executives, including 940 in the U.S., to an electronic survey conducted during the first two weeks of January.

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