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U.S. business leaders increasingly optimistic about economy

Global business optimism reaches highest level in survey history

CHICAGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Optimism for the nation’s economic outlook among U.S. business leaders continued to rise from first quarter 2014, according to the latest data from the Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR), a survey of more than 3,300 business leaders in 45 countries. In second quarter 2014, optimism among U.S. business leaders rose eight percentage points to a net balance of 74 percent, marking the highest level since 2004.

“The increase in optimism, coupled with recent improvements in key economic indicators may finally provide business leaders the confidence to invest in their businesses, create jobs and grow their operations in the coming months.”

The increase in optimism in the United States is consistent with what is occurring globally. In second quarter 2014, optimism among global business leaders rose two percentage points to a net balance of 46 percent. This marks the highest level in the survey’s history, and a 19 percentage-point increase from one year ago.

The notion that U.S. business optimism is on the rise correlates with other recent research from the Grant Thornton LLP 2014 Spring CFO Survey. The survey indicated that, for the first time since 2006, more CFOs believe the state of the U.S. economy will improve (51 percent) rather than remain the same or worsen (49 percent) during the next six months. This also marks the highest percentage in that survey’s history.

“Following a strong first quarter, business leaders across the globe continue to show levels of confidence we have not seen in more than a decade,” said Stephen Chipman, chief executive officer of Grant Thornton LLP. “The increase in optimism, coupled with recent improvements in key economic indicators may finally provide business leaders the confidence to invest in their businesses, create jobs and grow their operations in the coming months.”

IBR data reveals G7 business optimism rose to a record high net 53 percent, up from 28 percent in fourth quarter 2013. Optimism in the European Union, driven by Germany (79 percent), the United Kingdom (80 percent) and Ireland (84 percent), rose six percentage points to a net 43 percent, marking its highest level since 2007.

While optimism in the European Union and G7 economies both reached record highs, BRIC business optimism dropped four percentage points to a net balance of 36 percent. Optimism in China, the world’s second largest economy, also dropped in second quarter 2014. Chinese business optimism decreased to a net balance of 30 percent, an eight percentage-point decrease from last quarter, but a substantial increase from net 4 percent one year ago. Additionally, Japanese business optimism decreased to a net 5 percent, down from 17 percent in the previous quarter.

About Grant Thornton LLP

Founded in Chicago in 1924, Grant Thornton LLP (Grant Thornton) is the U.S. member firm of Grant Thornton International Ltd, one of the world’s leading organizations of independent audit, tax and advisory firms. In the United States, Grant Thornton has revenues in excess of $1.3 billion and operates 56 offices with more than 500 partners and 6,000 employees. Grant Thornton works with a broad range of dynamic publicly and privately held companies, government agencies, financial institutions, and civic and religious organizations.

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Notes to editors

The Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR) provides insight into the views and expectations of more than 12,500 businesses per year across 44 economies. This unique survey draws upon 22 years of trend data for most European participants and 11 years for many non-European economies. For more information, please visit: www.internationalbusinessreport.com

Data collection

Data collection is managed by Grant Thornton International Ltd's core research partner – Experian. Questionnaires are translated into local languages with each participating country having the option to ask a small number of country specific questions in addition to the core questionnaire. Fieldwork is undertaken on a quarterly basis. The research is carried out primarily by telephone. For percentages not identified as a percentage of respondents, the net percent balance is reported as the proportion of companies reporting they are optimistic/the trend has increased less those reporting they are pessimistic/trend has decreased.

Sample

IBR is a survey of both listed and privately held businesses. The data for this release are drawn from interviews with 3,300 businesses from all industry sectors across the globe conducted during May 2014. The target respondents are chief executive officers, managing directors, chairmen or other senior executives.

About Grant Thornton

Grant Thornton is one of the world's leading organisations of independent assurance, tax and advisory firms. These firms help dynamic organisations unlock their potential for growth by providing meaningful, forward looking advice. Proactive teams, led by approachable partners in these firms, use insights, experience and instinct to understand complex issues for privately owned, publicly listed and public sector clients and help them to find solutions. More than 35,000 Grant Thornton people, across over 100 countries, are focused on making a difference to clients, colleagues and the communities in which we live and work.

"Grant Thornton" refers to the brand under which the Grant Thornton member firms provide assurance, tax and advisory services to their clients and/or refers to one or more member firms, as the context requires. Grant Thornton International Ltd (GTIL) and the member firms are not a worldwide partnership. GTIL and each member firm is a separate legal entity. Services are delivered by the member firms. GTIL does not provide services to clients. GTIL and its member firms are not agents of, and do not obligate, one another and are not liable for one another's acts or omissions.

Contacts

Grant Thornton LLP
Kristen Bugaris, 312-602-8277
kristen.bugaris@us.gt.com