The Conference Board Measure of CEO Confidence™

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CEO Confidence Declines Again

08 Oct. 2014

The Conference Board and PwC Measure of CEO Confidence™ declined again in the third quarter of 2014. The Measure now reads 59, down from 62 last quarter (a reading of more than 50 points reflects more positive than negative responses).

Says Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board: “While CEOs say economic conditions have improved from the start of the year, their expectations for growth in the short-term have softened. Overall, CEOs remain optimistic about growth prospects in the U.S. and India, but sentiment for Europe has declined considerably. Expectations for China and Japan have moderated, and CEOs remained negative about Brazil’s near-term prospects. Less than a quarter of chief executives report increasing their companies’ capital spending plans since January, while less than 20 percent have scaled back spending. “

CEOs’ assessment of current economic conditions, however, was more positive. Now, approximately 52 percent claim conditions are better compared to six months ago, up from 46 percent in the second quarter of 2014. Conversely, business leaders’ appraisal of conditions in their own industries declined, with just 41 percent saying conditions in their own industries have improved, compared with 48 percent last quarter.

CEOs’ expectations regarding the short-term outlook were less optimistic. Slightly more than 44 percent of business leaders anticipate economic conditions will improve over the next six months, down from 53 percent last quarter. However, nearly 51 percent expect conditions to remain the same. Expectations for their own industries are also more subdued, with 34 percent anticipating an improvement, down from 46 percent in the second quarter. About 51 percent expect no change in conditions.

Global Outlook

CEOs are more positive in their assessment of current economic conditions in the United States and India, but remain negative regarding conditions in Brazil, China, Europe and Japan. More notably, business leaders’ assessment of conditions in Europe and Japan went from positive (a reading of 50 and over) to negative, while India increased into positive territory.

Looking ahead, short-term expectations for Europe, China and Japan declined but remain slightly positive, while expectations for Brazil edged up but remain negative. Overall, CEOs are most positive about the outlook for both the United States and India.

More CEOs Increasing Capital Spending Plans

Nearly 21 percent of chief executives report increasing their companies’ capital spending plans since January of this year, while 17 percent have scaled back spending, based on a supplementary question. In 2012, when we last asked this question, only 9 percent of respondents had increased their capital spending plans and 32 percent had made cuts. An increase in sales volume was one of the most common reasons given for increasing capital investment plans. A decline in sales volume also played a key role in scaling back spending plans.

Survey results were fielded from mid-August to mid-September
Source: CEO Confidence Survey 3rd Quarter 2014
The Conference Board

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