Survey finds CEOs more optimistic about economy

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WASHINGTON - A growing number of chief executives at large U.S. companies say they are more optimistic about the economy and plan to hire in the next six months.

The Business Roundtable says a survey of its CEO members found that 42 percent expect to hire over the next six months. That's up from 35 percent three months ago. Nearly half plan to spend more on machinery and other capital equipment and more than 80 percent expect their sales to rise.

The chief executives' overall outlook on the economy improved sharply. The group's outlook index jumped to 96.9 in the current quarter from 77.9 in the final quarter of last year. That's the highest since last summer.

The group is an association of the leaders of the 200 biggest U.S. companies.