line graphA quarterly survey on domestic and international finance professionals, conducted by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and the Institute of Management Accountants, has reported that U.S. business confidence dropped during Q4 of 2013. This decline in confidence comes as business and investment opportunities in the U.S. have increased thanks to heightened access to growth capital, stable prices, and few alternative investment opportunities. Just 23 percent of U.S. respondents reported confidence gains in their businesses in Q4 and 35 reported losses (up from 31 percent from the previous quarter). Optimism about the state of the economy fell 7 percent.

“What we are seeing in the U.S. and some other markets around the world is a series of good business indicators, such as improved investment and job creation, but low confidence levels in their own business prospects,” Emmanouil Schizas, ACCA senior economic analyst, said. “Finance professionals can see the improvements on paper, but this hasn’t impacted their optimism. These puzzling results might be partly due to concerns over the recent problems faced by many emerging markets.”

“At the industry level, results from the U.S. point to continued structural rebalancing, although perhaps not in the manner that policymakers or industry might have chosen,” said Raef Lawson, vice president of research. “The manufacturing and engineering sectors encountered positive business confidence for the first time in nearly two years, but the IT and high-tech sectors saw a disappointing final quarter, ending a year-long period of gains in confidence.”

Globally, finance professionals were more confident in the strength of the economic recovery during Q4 2013. Over half of all respondents felt that conditions were improving or about to improve and 42 percent felt that economic conditions were either deteriorating or stagnating. Both statistics decreased slightly from the prior quarter.


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