CEO Confidence Hits 20-Year High, Survey Shows

By Agence France-Presse Chief executives' confidence in the U.S. economy surged to a 20-year high in the first quarter of 2004, and half of them expect to hire more people this year, a survey showed April 5. An index of corporate chiefs' confidence in the current economy surged seven points from the previous quarter to 73 points, the highest in 20 years, the New York-based Conference Board economic research group said. An index of chief executives' confidence in the economic outlook in six months soared 10 points to 78. "Half of all CEOs surveyed anticipate an increase in hiring plans over the course of the year, suggesting labor market growth should gain momentum in the months ahead," said Conference Board consumer research chief Lynn Franco. A year earlier, only 16% of those surveyed expected to expand their workforces, Franco said in a statement. Health-care costs were the "major obstacle" to hiring new workers, she said. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2004

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