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CEO Survey Shows "High" Anxiety

It takes self-confidence to be the chief executive. Faith in the business environment is another matter.

Edward Kopko, CEO of Chief Executive magazine, told "Morning Call" that the C-level executives his publication surveyed fear the U.S. economy may be faltering.

Speaking even as oil prices began to rise again, Kopko explained to CNBC's Dylan Ratigan that the factors making CEOs the most anxious are ballooning federal spending and the specter of interest-rate hikes. Of the several opinion indices Chief Executive tabulates and maintains, he said the key "investment conditions" metric had dropped the most.

One small ray of January sunshine: Kopko pointed to the survey's employment index as the most stable, with 39% of those canvassed saying they plan to hire in the next quarter, and the majority staying flat.

While CEO's might be suffering from a lack of economic confidence--consumers might be a bit more optimistic. As we and other sources reported last week--consumer confidence rebounded slightly after a shaky start to the year, though it remains short of the 2006 high it reached in mid-December.

The CCI is based on Americans' ratings of the national economy, the buying climate and their personal finances. Last week--46 percent of consumers rate the national economy positively — close to its recent five-year high of 48 percent, reached five weeks ago, and six points above the long-term average.

The slight rebound coincides with easing gasoline prices — last week's eight-cent per-gallon drop in the U.S. Department of Energy survey was the largest weekly drop since the end of September — and a strong stock market.