In the wake of last week's news that U.S. GDP expanded for the second quarter in a row during the fourth quarter, a survey of CFOs provides more evidence that the economy is beginning to mend.

CFOs' optimism about the economy rose to 56.98 in the fourth quarter, up from 54.2 in the third quarter and 41.9 in the second quarter, according to a quarterly survey conducted by Financial Executives International and Baruch College. The almost 400 CFOs surveyed were even more upbeat about the outlook for their own companies, with that reading rising to 67.09, up from 64.1 in the third quarter and 51.44 in the second quarter.

John Elliott, dean of the Zicklin School of Business at Baruch, says the best news can be found in the report's details. "At the end of the third quarter, we saw an improvement in sentiment, but that improvement wasn't really supported by specific forward-looking expectations," Elliott says. "This quarter, we saw a continuation of the uptick in optimism, but it was supported by increased optimism about capital spending and hiring."

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Susan Kelly

Susan Kelly is a business journalist who has written for Treasury & Risk, FierceCFO, Global Finance, Financial Week, Bridge News and The Bond Buyer.