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Optimism Regarding Economy Continues to Rise Among U.S. Manufacturers

U.S. industrial manufacturers expect continued global economic growth in 2012, with optimism regarding the prospects for the U.S. economy continuing to rise, according to the Q1 2012 Manufacturing Barometer released this month by PricewaterhouseCoopers. Optimism regarding the broader world economy also improved, but only moderately as uncertainty remains prevalent across the globe. Reflecting the overall rise in sentiment, more companies plan to hire employees in the year ahead, while a majority forecast increased investment spending. In addition, companies are reporting improved profitability and decreased concerns regarding barriers to growth, despite volatile oil/energy prices worldwide and ongoing concerns regarding legislative/regulatory issues, among other factors.

Optimism regarding the prospects of the U.S. economy during the next 12 months rose 40 points among industrial manufacturers, to 70% in the first quarter of 2012 from 30% in the fourth quarter of 2011. The gain follows considerable fluctuation in sentiment during the past year, including the historically low level of optimism of five percent, recorded in last year’s third quarter.

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