US companies increasingly upbeat about world economy

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American business confidence in the world economy has surged, adding to an uptick in overall optimism as US tax cuts and looser regulation improve the outlook for domestic growth, according to a new study.

Some 69 per cent of leaders from mid-size companies across the US said they were optimistic about the global economy this year, more than double the 30 per cent in 2017, according to the JPMorgan Chase & Co. survey released Wednesday. The latest results marked the highest share of confidence in the eight-year history of the report, which indicated small businesses are similarly upbeat.

The survey also showed 89 per cent were confident in the US economy’s prospects this year, up from 80 per cent in 2017 and 39 per cent in 2016. Some 70 per cent said the reduction in tax rates would benefit their companies “somewhat” or “to a great extent.” The survey showed that of those expecting to benefit, they will use the savings to pay down debt, invest in their businesses and increase worker pay.

Some 76 per cent of leaders from mid-size firms, up from 71 per cent, said they plan to raise compensation and 64 per cent indicated they will take on more full-time help. Companies say they’re more concerned about a shortage of skilled workers as baby boomers retire. That will keep the skills gap wide as businesses compete for more experienced employees.

 The 2018 Business Leaders Outlook survey was conducted online among mid-size firms from Jan 2 to Jan 19, and included 1,685 executives and 955 small-business leaders across various industries in the US Mid-size companies are defined as those with revenue of US$20 million to US$500 million, while small firms have US$100,000 to US$20 million.