CEO confidence at highest point since recession: 6 fast facts

CEOs are more optimistic about the economy this year, with greater plans for hiring and investment and higher expectations for sales over the next six months, according to the Business Roundtable first quarter 2017 CEO Economic Outlook Survey.

The latest Business Roundtable CEO Economic Index — an aggregation of CEO projections for sales and plans for capital investment and hiring for the upcoming six months — saw the largest growth since the fourth quarter of 2009. The survey was conducted between Feb. 8 and March 1 among 141 member CEOs across a variety of industries.

Here are six findings from the 2017 CEO Economic Outlook Survey.

1. The index surged 19.1 points from 74.2 in the fourth quarter of 2016 to 93.3 in the current quarter.

2. The latest score represents the first time in seven quarters the index has risen above its historical average of 79.8. The highest level the index reached in the past decade was 113 in the first quarter of 2011.

3. CEOs' plans for hiring are 18 points higher in the current quarter than in the fourth quarter of 2016.

4. Expectations for sales and capital spending increased by 21 points and 18.4 points, respectively, from the previous quarter.

5. CEOs project the gross domestic product will rise 2.2 percent in 2017, a 0.2 percent increase over the projection they made for 2017 in December.

6. In a new question included on the latest survey, 52 percent of CEOs identified tax reform and 27 percent pointed to regulatory reforms as the two best ways to improve their company's growth. Fifteen percent of responding CEOs identified infrastructure as a priority.

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