(Reuters) — U.S. chief executive officers are somewhat more positive
about the economy, including plans for hiring and capital spending
over the next six months, although they expect only tepid growth
this year, according to a quarterly survey by the Business
Roundtable released on Tuesday.
The CEOs said gross domestic product would rise by 2.4 percent in
2014, which is below-normal growth compared with past economic
recoveries, according to the survey.
"CEO expectations for overall economic growth in 2014 continue to be
modest at best," Randall Stephenson, chairman of the Business
Roundtable and CEO of AT&T Inc, told reporters on a conference call.
He noted that a full recovery would show growth of at least 4
"We're many years into this recovery now and still chugging along at
a 2 (to) 2-1/2 percent economic growth rate, which I think all of us — in business, in Congress, the administration — view as
unacceptable," Stephenson said.
Of executives surveyed, 37 percent expect to increase employment in
the next six months, compared with 34 percent a quarter ago, while
fewer expected to decrease employment levels.
Forty-eight percent of executives now expect to increase capital
spending in the next six months, compared with 39 percent in the
The greater optimism for capital expenditures was encouraging,
Stephenson noted, because "there's a very high correlation between
private sector capital investment and sustained job growth."
Seventy-two percent of CEOs expect sales to rise in the next six
months, down from 73 percent in the prior survey. But fewer expect
sales to decline: 5 percent vs. 8 percent in the earlier survey.
The Business Roundtable CEO Economic Outlook Index, a composite of
top executives' expectations for sales, capital spending and
employment for the next six months, rose to 92.1 from 84.5 in the
fourth quarter of 2013. A reading above 50 indicates economic growth
The survey, conducted between February 21 and March 7, had responses
from 122 member CEOs.
The Business Roundtable, which advocates for public policy, has put
at the top of its agenda pushing for corporate tax and immigration
reform, as well as expanded trade agreements
(Reporting by Lewis Krauskopf; editing by Lisa Von Ahn)