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Top U.S. CEOs still cautious about economic recovery

Boeing Chief Executive Jim McNerney
The nation's top business chief executives remained cautious about the economic recovery, with a leading gauge of their outlook little changed in the last three months of the year.

The Business Roundtable's quarterly CEO Economic Outlook Survey Index ticked up slightly to 77.9 from 77.6 in the third quarter of the year. But that is still significantly down from the 109.9 level in the second quarter, before the European debt crisis began taking its toll on the global economy. The index can range from 150 to negative 50, with a figure above 50 signifying economic expansion and below 50 indicating a contraction.

"The findings of this survey reflect the continuation of a slow, uneven recovery characterized by ongoing economic uncertainty for American businesses," said the group's chairman, Boeing Co. Chief Executive Jim McNerney. The Business Roundtable, which represents top U.S. companies, surveyed 130 of its member chief executives.

Executives were a little more optimistic about company's sales in the next six months, with 68% expecting an increase, up from 65% in the third quarter. But they said that would have no effect on hiring. In fact, 35% of the chief executives said they expected to increase their U.S. employment in the next six months, down from 36% the previous quarter.

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-- Jim Puzzanghera in Washington

Photo: Boeing Chief Executive Jim McNerney at the APEC CEO Summit in Hawaii in November. Credit: Reuters.

 
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