Chief Executive Officers in U.S. Gain Confidence as Sales Rise

Chief executive officers in the U.S. project a pickup in sales and hiring in the next six months as the economy improves, a survey showed.

The Business Roundtable’s economic outlook index rose to a one-year high of 84.3 in the second quarter from 81 in the previous three months, the Washington-based trade group reported today. Readings greater than 50 are consistent with economic expansion. Today’s measure is above the long-term average of 79.3.

Seventy-eight percent of business leaders estimated sales will rise in the next six months, up from 72 percent in the previous quarter. More respondents, 32 percent this quarter compared with 29 percent, also forecast an increase in payrolls.

Capital spending plans over the next six months were little changed, with 37 percent indicating they expect more investment in equipment compared with 38 percent in the previous quarter. At the same time, the share of executives anticipating a decrease in capital expenditures fell, to 11 percent from 15 percent.

The survey, taken during the last two weeks of May, tabulates the responses of 141 chief executive officers who belong to the Business Roundtable. The group’s members represent companies with a combined workforce of almost 16 million employees and more than $7.3 trillion in annual revenue.

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