LONDON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--CEOs in the European Union are more confident about economic and business prospects than at any time over the past 4½ years. The YPO Global Pulse Confidence Index for the European Union surged 3 points to 62.2 in January. It is normally much lower – nine months ago, it stood at 51.4. Since the survey’s inception in 2009, EU CEOs have typically been the most pessimistic in the world about economic conditions, but they now find themselves almost on a par with their counterparts in the United States and Asia when it comes to optimism about future economic prospects.
“A supportive central bank, low interest rates, narrowing sovereign interest rate spreads and improving conditions for European exports all contribute to the widespread feeling that, though pre-crisis growth rates are not to be expected yet, the eurozone economy has turned a corner,” said Anastasios Economou, managing director of iGroup and executive member of YPO’s Greater Europe Chapter.
Globally, a rising tide of optimism lifted business confidence in all regions except Africa and Australasia, where CEO sentiment edged lower from already-lofty levels. Notably, the United States broke out of its 15-quarter confidence rut, jumping 3 points to 63.5. Asia’s index rose for the second consecutive quarter, to 63.6. The global index stands at 63.0.
Key findings in the EU
Increased sales and investment projections bring brighter outlook: The upturn in business confidence was due in part to higher sales forecasts. The majority (59%) of CEOs surveyed expected their organisations’ revenues to grow by at least 10% over the next 12 months. EU business leaders are also planning to step up capital spending: 40% expect to make new investments in 2014.
Hiring plans remain steady: Two-thirds (67%) of survey participants expected overall head counts to remain at current levels throughout the year. On the bright side, fewer companies planned to lay off workers compared with last quarter. In October, 9% said they planned to reduce head counts by at least 10% over the next 12 months. In the January survey, only 4% indicated plans to do so.