Finance Pros Feeling More Confident in Economy

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Finance professionals around the world felt more upbeat about the economy in the second quarter of the year, according to a survey by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and the Institute of Management Accountants.

The ACCA and IMA’s Q2 Global Economic Conditions Survey, released last week, found that business confidence increased in the second quarter after reaching a four-year low during the first quarter. It is now at its highest level in a year, according to the survey. However, business confidence edged down slightly in North America in Q2, even though the mood remained more optimistic than in most other regions of the globe. While 38 percent of businesses said they were less optimistic than three months earlier—up from 36 percent in Q1, but that was still below the 43 percent global average.

More North American businesses (14 percent) saw opportunities to increase orders in Q2. Fewer companies in North America than in any other region reported plans to freeze employment levels or reduce jobs, while 26 percent of North American businesses plan to increase employment, higher than any other region of the world. The Q2 2016 GECS survey polled more than 1,250 finance professionals and more than 130 CFOs around the world.

The Brexit vote in the U.K. does not seem to have significantly dampened business confidence outside Europe. “Fears of global recession seem to have eased over the past quarter as China’s currency stabilizes, the United States enjoys a consumer-led recovery, and commodity prices have started to rise,” said Faye Chua, head of business insight at ACCA, in a statement. “Yet low levels of confidence across Europe in the run-up to the United Kingdom referendum have offset some of those fragile gains as jittery markets from the United States, United Kingdom, and across the emerging world suffer decline.”

Beyond Europe, the survey indicated some grounds for greater business confidence outside countries that are part of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. “The improvement was driven by non-OECD economies,” said IMA vice president of research and policy Raef Lawson. “Commodity-producing economies in particular have benefited from recent price rises with optimistic expectations of government spending in Africa and the Middle East, where governments are reliant on commodity revenues.”

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