Top executives are increasingly confident about the health of the global economy and the availability of finance, according to a survey of 1600 people by accounting firm Ernst & Young.
Conducted during February and March, the global survey found improving confidence across most economic measures, and suggested that an increasing number of Australian companies are looking to hire workers in the year ahead.
Despite hundreds of local jobs being cut recently by the likes of Holden, Rio Tinto and other big corporates, the number of Australian executives that planned to hire new staff more than doubled since the October survey to reach 44 per cent. Only 8 per cent of those surveyed planned further job cuts over the next year.
The October survey found just 22 per cent of respondents believed the global economy was improving, but by this month that number had recovered to 57 per cent. The number who felt the global economy was deteriorating more than halved over the same period to be just 11 per cent in the most recent survey.
The sourcing of finance also seems to be becoming easier than it was in late last year when fears about the health of the Chinese economy was freezing capital markets. The number of Australian respondents who believed they could source "deal financing" should they require it almost tripled from just 19 per cent in October to 56 per cent in the recent survey.
Well over 70 per cent of respondents expect deal flow to improve over the next year, but the vast majority of those believe the improvement will only be modest.
The majority of executives that responded to the survey worked for publicly listed companies with annual revenues in excess of $US1 billion, and the best represented sectors were mining and metals, financial services and consumer products.