The Conference Board and PwC Measure of CEO Confidence™, which had increased in the fourth quarter of 2013, improved further in the first quarter of 2014. The Measure now reads 63, up from 60 in the previous 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: “CEO confidence rose to a two-year high, with both current conditions and expectations improving. CEOs were more positive about short-term growth prospects in the U.S. and Europe, but less positive about prospects for Japan and emerging markets.”
CEOs’ assessment of current economic conditions continued to improve. Now, 54 percent claim conditions are better compared to six months ago, up from 44 percent last quarter. Business leaders are also more optimistic about conditions in their own industries. Approximately 47 percent say conditions in their own industries have improved, compared with 41 percent last quarter.
CEOs’ short-term outlook also improved considerably. Currently, 60 percent of business leaders anticipate economic conditions will improve over the next six months, up from 50 percent in the fourth quarter of last year. Expectations for their own industries are more upbeat, with 52 percent of CEOs anticipating an improvement in conditions in the months ahead, up from 47 percent last quarter.
CEOs are more positive in their assessment of current economic conditions in the United States, but slightly less positive than last quarter regarding conditions in Europe. Sentiment regarding conditions in Japan has eased, but remains slightly positive. On the other hand, CEOs are once again rating conditions in China as unfavorable, and remain pessimistic regarding India and Brazil.
Looking ahead, short-term expectations for the United States and Europe, and to a lesser extent China and Japan, are positive. Expectations for India and Brazil remain moderately pessimistic.