UPDATE 2-Some U.S. CEOs ready to resume hiring -Roundtable

* More plan to add jobs than cut, 1st time since 2008

* Retail sector leading shift -Roundtable

* 73 pct of CEOs think sales will grow over next 6 months

* CEOs expect 2.3 pct U.S. real GDP growth in 2010
(Adds economist quotes, details)

By Scott Malone

BOSTON, April 7 (BestGrowthStock) – U.S. chief executive officers
are feeling more confident about the economy, with more of them
planning to add rather than cut jobs over the next six months,
a Business Roundtable survey released on Wednesday found.

The change in mood — CEOs had been inclined toward cutting
jobs for about two years — marked an important shift for an
economy struggling to regain its footing after its worst
downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The retail sector is leading the charge toward hiring as
consumer spending begins to pick up, said Verizon
Communications Inc (VZ.N: ) CEO Ivan Seidenberg, chairman of the
Business Roundtable, which conducts the quarterly survey.

Twenty-nine percent of U.S. CEOs told the Roundtable they
plan to add jobs in the United States over the next six months,
more than the 21 percent who planned to cut. That marked the
first time since the first quarter of 2008 that more planned to
add jobs than cut them.

“The improved employment outlook is a result of increased
demand,” Seidenberg said on a conference call with reporters.
“We have seen some signals from the retail segment of our CEOs
that they are looking at some hiring going on, because they see
some demand picking up.”


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The retail sector is a key indicator of consumer spending,
which accounts for about two-thirds of U.S. economic activity.

“This gives us confidence that the two pillars that could
sustain this recovery are maybe starting to get set in place,”
said Boston College economics professor Bob Murphy. “The
recovery ultimately will depend on whether consumption picks

The finding follows a Friday government report showing that
U.S. employers added jobs at the fastest rate seen in three
years last month. Major U.S. retailers from Target Corp (TGT.N: )
to Saks Inc (SKS.N: ) are expected to show strong March sales
growth when they release monthly results on Thursday.


Seventy-three percent of CEOs expect their companies’ sales
to rise over the next six months, while 47 percent plan to
boost U.S. capital spending over that time.

Seidenberg noted that sales growth and capital spending,
both of which improved in the first quarter, tend to rise
before hiring resumes.

CEOs look for a 2.3 percent rise in real U.S. GDP in 2010,
the survey found.

The overall U.S. CEO Economic Outlook Index stood at 88.9,
up from 71.5 at the end of 2009 and the highest since the
second quarter of 2006. The outlook index is a diffusion index,
which can range from negative 50 to positive 150. A reading
above 50 indicates growth; below 50 signals contraction.

Some companies continue to cut back — business software
maker CA Inc (CA.O: ), for instance, on Tuesday said it would cut
1,000 jobs as it copes with weak profits.

Investors will get a deeper look into how corporate America
is doing next week, as big U.S. companies including Alcoa Inc
(AA.N: ), JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N: ), Google Inc (Read more about Google Stock Analysis) (GOOG.O: ) and
General Electric Co (GE.N: ) report their first-quarter results.

Business Roundtable member companies, 105 of which answered
the survey between March 15 and 30, generate nearly $6 trillion
in collective revenue and employ more than 12 million people.
(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn, Dave
Zimmerman and Robert MacMillan)

UPDATE 2-Some U.S. CEOs ready to resume hiring -Roundtable