Survey: CEOs less confident about economy

Business executives are less upbeat in their assessments of current conditions as well as their expectations for the near future, according to the latest results of a quarterly survey.

The Conference Board reported that its Measure of CEO Confidence fell five points to 47 for the third quarter. A reading below 50 indicates more negative than positive responses.

“This latest report reflects ongoing concern about the strength of the economy,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators for the Conference Board, a business research and membership group.

“CEOs’ assessment of current conditions remains weak, and they have grown increasingly pessimistic about the short-term outlook. Sluggish growth and a persistent cloud of uncertainty have played a role in CEOs curtailing spending plans this year,” Franco added.

The Conference Board bases it Measure of CEO Confidence on the results of quarterly surveys of executives in a variety of industries. Third quarter survey responses were fielded from mid-August to mid-September.

For the third quarter, 9 percent of chief executive officers responding to the survey said economic conditions have improved over the last six months, down eight points from the second quarter.

In assessing their own industries, 14 percent of CEOs said conditions had improved, also down eight points from the previous quarter.

Looking ahead six months, 12 percent of executives said they expect economic conditions to improve, another eight-point drop from the second quarter.

CEOS were similarly less upbeat in their expectations for their own industries — 15 percent said they anticipate improving conditions, down 10 points.

Business executives also were asked about their capital spending plans.

Less than 10 percent of CEOs said they’ve increased capital spending plans since the beginning of the year. Last year at this time, 22 percent of executives reported increasing capital spending plans, while 23 percent made cuts.

The executives cited declining sales volume as the major reason for scaling back capital spending plans.