CEOs Express Cautious Economic Confidence

Chief executives recently surveyed by the Conference Board are marginally more confident about the U.S. economy than they were three months ago.

Their confidence edged up to single point to 62 in the first quarter of this year from 61 points in the final calendar quarter of 2004, the New York-based business research group reports.

Despite their stated confidence in the economy, however, just 43% of the CEOs in the most recent survey expect conditions to improve during the next few months, a figure seven percentage points below last fall's 50%.

About 44% of the executives expect employment to increase in their industries, but that figure is down from 50% a year ago. The CEOs identify health-care costs as the biggest barrier to adding workers.

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