The majority of senior finance executives believe the U.S. economy and their own business growth will either remain the same, or improve, throughout the rest of 2006, according to a new survey from Grant Thornton LLP.   Of the 381 chief financial officers and controllers surveyed in August, 59 percent said that they expected the U.S. economy to remain the same for the remainder of 2006, while an additional 13 percent expected the economy to improve. About 50 percent of the executives expect their company’s financial prospects to remain the same, while another 37 percent expect their company’s bottom line to improve during the rest of 2006.    The additional positive news for employees is that hiring plans remain on track -- 55 percent of executives said that they will continue to hire at the same level as earlier in the year and 29 percent said that they will boost hiring.  Only 16 percent of respondents shared plans to decrease hiring. Additionally, a majority of companies -- 89 percent -- said that they don’t plan to cut healthcare benefits for retirees within the next 12 months.    Commissioned by Grant Thornton, the survey received responses from executives at public and private companies with revenues ranging from less than $50 million to more than $2 billion.

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