The Conference Board Measure of CEO Confidence™

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CEO Confidence Improves Slightly

08 Jan. 2015

The Conference Board and PwC Measure of CEO Confidence™, which had declined in the third quarter of 2014, increased slightly in the fourth quarter of 2014. The Measure now reads 60, up from 59 in the third quarter (a reading of more than 50 points reflects more positive than negative responses).

“Optimism among CEOs increased moderately in the final quarter of 2014,” said Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. “Expectations for growth prospects in the U.S. are slightly more upbeat, but less positive for Europe, China, Brazil and Japan. The majority of business leaders expect to increase selling prices in 2015, but only by about 1.4 percent.”

CEOs’ assessment of current economic conditions was virtually unchanged. Approximately 52 percent claim conditions are better compared to six months ago, about the same as in the third quarter of 2014. Business leaders’ appraisal of conditions in their own industries increased slightly, with 43 percent saying conditions in their own industries have improved, compared with 41 percent in the previous quarter.

CEOs’ expectations regarding the short-term outlook were more optimistic. About 49 percent of business leaders anticipate economic conditions will improve over the next six months, up from 44 percent in the previous quarter. However, 46 percent expect conditions to remain the same. Expectations for their own industries remain subdued, with 36 percent of CEOs anticipating an improvement, up from 34 percent in the third quarter. About 53 percent expect no change in conditions.

Global Outlook

CEOs are more positive in their assessment of current economic conditions in the United States but rated conditions in Japan, Europe, China and Brazil less favorably. Sentiment regarding current conditions in India was unchanged.

Looking ahead, only short-term expectations for the U.S. improved. CEOs are more pessimistic than last quarter regarding the outlook for Brazil, Japan, China and Europe. Expectations for India declined, but on whole remain positive.

Inflation Outlook: Modest Price Increases Expected

The majority of chief executives expect changes in their firms’ selling prices in 2015 —with just 16 percent anticipating price increases in excess of 4 percent. On average, firms plan to hike prices by 1.4 percent. About 18 percent plan decreases and 23 percent foresee no change.

Survey results were fielded from mid-November to mid-December 
Source: CEO Confidence Survey 4th Quarter 2014
The Conference Board

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