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CFOs at US companies are less confident about 2012 economic growth: Survey

Financial executives at US companies are less confident about economic growth in 2012, according to the Bank of America Merrill Lynch CFO Outlook survey.

According to survey of the 600 executives, only 38% said they expect the US economy to expand in 2012, down from 56% in last year’s survey and 66% the previous year.

CFOs rated the economy a score of 44 out of 100, down from last year’s score of 47 and equal to the lowest score in the survey’s 14-year history.

Majority CFOs don’t expect their companies to reduce workforces in 2012 and only 7% predicted layoffs, compared with 6% last year.

Meanwhile, 48% of executives said they expect their companies to maintain the current number of employees, while 46% said they expected to hire employees.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch head of Global Commercial Banking Laura Whitley said that many CFOs are hoping for more positive signs of consistent economic stability and growth – in the US and abroad.

"While they remain cautious, it is encouraging to see that reservations about the economy won’t translate to reductions in the overall workforce, and that CFOs are staying the course while waiting for the economy to improve," added Whitley.

When asked if their lenders have increased the credit available to their companies, 36% of executives said yes, up from 28% last year.

In addition, only 21% of CFOs said they expect their cost of capital to increase, down from 27% a year ago.