CEO Economic Doubts Deepen

For the third consecutive quarter, chief executives' confidence in the U.S. economy declined in the final three months of 2004, according to a survey conducted by the Conference Board, a New York-based business research group.

Its CEO confidence survey finished out the year with a reading of 61, down two points from the 63 recorded in the third quarter of last year. Nevertheless, the reading was above 50 points, indicating more positive than negative responses from CEOs. The survey included nearly 100 CEOs in a variety of industries.

"CEO confidence has now slipped for three consecutive quarters," notes Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board's Consumer Research Center. "However, expectations are that the economy will continue to grow in 2005, just not as fast as it did in the first half of 2004," she says. In the first quarter of 2004, the U.S. economy grew at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.5%, and in the second quarter the economy advanced at a 3.9% rate.

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