April 9, 2007 -- Optimism among the nation's chief executives rose over the first quarter, driven by a brighter outlook on the economy, the Conference Board reported Monday.

Based on a survey of 100 business leaders nationwide, the New York-based private research group's CEO confidence index rose three points to 53, after hitting 50 in the final quarter of 2006.

Twenty-four percent of respondents said current business conditions were better or the same as the last quarter, while 37 percent said conditions in their specific market sectors were better, up from 23 percent in December, the group said.

"Business leaders do not expect conditions to worsen. But by the same token, they do not expect conditions to improve," Lynn Franco, the group's director of consumer research, said in a statement.

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Published on: Apr 9, 2007