CEO CONFIDENCE AT SIX-YEAR HIGH

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CEO confidence rose sharply in the fourth quarter after a slight retreat in the prior quarter, according to The Conference Board’s measure of CEO confidence. In the fourth quarter, the measure jumped to a level of 65, up from 50 in the third quarter of 2016.

A reading of more than 50 reflects more positive than negative responses.

“CEO Confidence surged in the final quarter of 2016, reaching its highest level in nearly six years,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. “CEOs were considerably more optimistic about short-term growth prospects in the US than in the third quarter, and to a lesser degree about prospects in developed and emerging markets. Regarding prices in 2017, chief executives expect to hike prices by less than 1.5% on average.”

CEOs’ short-term outlook for the US economy also improved markedly, with approximately 67% expecting better economic conditions over the next six months, up from 25% last quarter. The outlook for their own industries was also more favorable, with 58% of CEOs anticipating an improvement over the next six months, compared to about 23% in the third quarter.

Globally, CEOs’ assessment of current conditions improved for most economies, with the United States posting the largest gain. CEOs’ assessment of conditions in India was unchanged, but remained positive. Despite improving sentiment in Europe, China, Brazil and Japan, chief executives remain moderately pessimistic.

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