NEW YORK, March 3, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — CPAs expressed their highest level of optimism on the U.S. economy since the third quarter of 2007, according to the latest AICPA/UNC Quarterly Economic Outlook Survey. This upbeat assessment follows a modest outlook last quarter. In addition, there was a slight improvement in expectations for hiring and an uptick in plans for capital spending for IT and other areas over the next 12 months. On the broader level, there was concern about inflation.

This quarter the Economic Outlook Survey introduces a new index. The CPA Outlook Index is a broad-based composite index that captures the expectations of our members and their plans for a breadth of indicators of economic activity. It is a composite of nine survey measures at equal weights. The CPAOI increased by .07 this quarter to reach .69. A reading above .5 indicates a generally positive outlook with increasing activity. A reading below .5 indicates a generally negative outlook with decreasing activity.

"We see a substantial bounce in optimism about the economy for the first time in nearly three years," said AICPA Vice President for Business, Industry and Government Carol Scott. "The new composite index shows positive movements across the board. However, this seems to be tempered by concerns about inflation."

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