Corporate chieftains seem to be losing some of their enthusiasm in the economy.
The Business Roundtable CEO Economic Outlook Index, which measures CEO expectations for sales, capital spending and hiring over the next six months, slipped to 85.1 this quarter from 86.4 in the third quarter. The survey polled 129 Business Roundtable CEOs.
CEOs' expectations for investment sank 5.8 points, and survey respondents said U.S. tax policy and regulatory issues represent the biggest restraints on investment spending.
Expectations for sales dipped 1.3 points, but hiring plans climbed 3.6 points following a 15.7 point drop last quarter.
"The economy ended the year essentially where it started, performing below its potential," Randall Stephenson, chairman of the Business Roundtable and CEO of AT&T, said in a statement.
"Congress and the administration should act now on tax extenders and trade promotion authority to encourage additional business investment to help the economy grow and create more jobs."
The CEOs forecast economic growth of 2.4 percent for next year, unchanged from their 2014 prediction.
While recent statistics have shown strength in the U.S. economy, near-record low interest rates and declines in some commodity prices may be a sign that things aren't as great as they appear, says New York Times columnist Neil Irwin.
"Perhaps the situation is gloomier than the conventional economic measures are telling us," he writes. "It could be that this is a bit like the second half of 2007, when market measures pointed to a downturn, but a recession didn’t begin until December."
The 10-year Treasury yield has dropped to about 2.3 percent from just over 3 percent at the end of last year, and the Bloomberg Commodity Index has fallen 10.5 percent this year.
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