CEOs Mixed Over Economy

A quarterly survey of over 300 CEOs by consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers finds most executives have a positive economic outlook. But there are growing worries that weakening demand may slow growth for their companies this year.

About 76% of the surveyed CEOs said in the second quarter that they remained optimistic about the economy’s prospects over the next 12 months, down from 81% in the first quarter this year and 85% in the fourth quarter of 2003.

Also, 53% remain concerned about weak market demand as a possible roadblock to growth in the year ahead, said Paul Weaver, vp for PricewaterhouseCoopers’ global technology sector.

“Eroding optimism and worries about demand may be a reflection of worldwide uncertainties, a volatile political environment at home, and anticipation of further increases in interest rates,” he said

Still, Weaver noted that CEO confidence is much higher at the halfway point of 2004 versus last year. In the second quarter of 2003, only 33% of surveyed CEOs viewed the U.S. economy as “growing” compared to 89% this year. Those who identified themselves as “optimistic” about the U.S. and global economy tallied only 59% and 36%, respectively, versus 76% and 62% on those same points in the second quarter this year.

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