Colorado business leaders upbeat about third quarter

A quarterly index tracking confidence among Colorado business leaders has climbed to its highest level in three years on more upbeat expectations for the state economy.

The Leeds Business Confidence Index rose to 54.8 for the third quarter of 2010. That’s up from 51.7 for the second quarter and the highest level since the second quarter of 2007.

The index, compiled at the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado, is based on the results of an online survey of Colorado business leaders about national and state economic trends and how they expect their industries to perform in the coming quarter. Readings above 50 signal expansion.

The latest index reading reflects moderate gains in five of six components.

Among the latest survey respondents, 43 percent said they’re optimistic about economic prospects in Colorado, while

38 percent anticipate no change and the remaining 19 percent foresee a decline.

The outlook for third-quarter sales was even more upbeat, pushing the component reading up more than two points to 59.4. While 51 percent of respondents expect industry sales to increase, 35 percent anticipate no change and 14.2 percent foresee declining sales.

Component readings for hiring and capital expenditure plans passed growth-neutral 50 to climb to 53.3 and 53.7, respectively.

While nearly 30 percent of survey respondents believe hiring will increase in the third quarter, 55 percent project no change and 15 percent foresee decreased hiring.

Meanwhile, 30 percent of respondents anticipate moderate or strong increases in capital spending in the third quarter, another 55 percent expect no change and 14.6 percent project moderate or strong decreases in capital spending.

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