CFOs bullish on North America, less so on Europe, China

The chief financial officers of America’s largest and most influential companies remain optimistic on the outlook for the U.S. economy – but that optimism is weakening.

CFO Signals, a quarterly survey by accounting giant Deloitte, reports that for the third quarter these business leaders’ confidence has retreated compared to the second quarter when many measures of optimism reached a record.

CFOs’ assessments about the global economy declined, but they were most resilient on their expectations for North America. Their view of the current North American economy declined slightly, to 89 percent from 94 percent – but perceptions of Europe and China declined markedly – to 32 percent from 47 percent on Europe and on China to 37 percent from 47 percent.

Forty-five percent of the CFOs expect better conditions in a year in North America, while only 23 percent expect Europe to improve and 27 percent expect China’s business environment will be better in a year than it is now.

Sandy Cockrell, the global leader of the CFO Program for Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, told FOX Business that the skepticism in Europe is due to the slower fundamentals of the EU economy, questions around interest rates and the lack of clarity around the impending Brexit.

When it comes to the trade war between China and the U.S., Cockrell noted concerns about the uncertainty of what China will do that could impact U.S. companies.

CFOs’ worries include geopolitical and economic events – especially around trade policy and interest rates. They also cited pressures to execute on their growth plans, internal concerns about driving initiatives and finding talent.