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Chief executives forecast improving financial future for businesses across Utah

The majority of chief executive officers for businesses operating at locations across Utah are optimistic about the financial future and predict that their companies' health will improve in the next quarter.

Conducted by independent research firm Dan Jones & Associates, the Zion's Bank Utah Quarterly Economic Forecast tracks trends in the local marketplace and gauges the health of the state's economy from the perspective of chief executive officers of companies throughout the state.

Earlier in the year, 1,169 chief executive officers were recruited to form the study panel for the quarterly economic forecast and respond to an online survey.

The panelists rated their level of optimism about the financial future of their companies relatively high, yielding a mean score of 7.87 on a scale of 1 to 10.

The rating scale ranged from one or very pessimistic to 10 or very optimistic.

The second quarter 2006 survey also revealed that one- half of the study panelists plan to increase their companies' workforces during the next three months.

Factors causing the most concern for chief executive officers of businesses statewide, however, included escalating gasoline prices, health insurance costs and finding qualified employees.

"Our study found a high degree of optimism among the executives who are out in the trenches, seeing first-hand effects of the economic climate on their businesses," said Pat Jones, co-owner of Dan Jones & Associates.

Additional highlights from the second quarter 2006 economic forecast include:

•One-half of the panelists predict that the economic health of their companies will be better in the upcoming three months than in the preceding three months,.

Sixteen percent predicted that the companies' economic health will be much better and 34 percent anticipated that it will be somewhat better.

•A majority of panelists or 51 percent project that their companies' capital expenditures will be about the same during the next quarter as during the previous quarter.

•Nearly one-half of the forecast panelists or 47 percent anticipate that their companies' workforces will increase somewhat during the next quarter and 4 percent predict the number of employees will increase greatly.

•Nearly seven out of 10 panelists or 69 percent assert that if their companies' budgets were to tighten, the businesses would absorb some of the related expenditures and pass on some of the costs to clients.

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