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CEOs Seeing Improvement Around The Globe

Stocks started the day strong, gave up much of their gains midday as financials, retailers, and housing stocks sold off, and have now been making a modest comeback.

However, commodity stocks are still up notably, and in fact Materials have now stolen the Best Performing Sector of the Year spot from Tech:

S&P leaders YTD

Materials up 17.0%

Information Technology up 16.8%

Consumer Discretionary up 7.6%

Energy down 0.7%

Financials down 4.4%

Source: S&P

Despite today's weakness ex-commodities, there has been an unmistakable tone of modest optimism from many CEOs in the last 24 hours. They are far from bullish, but the tone of despair and uncertainty evident in the first quarter is gone.

Consider these comments:

1) Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis: "I think the worst is most likely behind us."

2) Union PacificCEO Jim Young: Freight volumes have "stabilized," but economic recovery is not expected until next year

3) Analog DevicesCEO Jerald Fishman: Orders "recovered significantly" last quarter and "were stable throughout the second quarter" and into May.

4) Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang: "It definitely seems the market has bottomed out and demand seems to be growing again"

5) Verizon CFO John Killian: "I think we've seen some (economic) stabilization. We really don't see it getting a lot worse, but we haven't seen it pick up at this point."

6) Air France-KLM CEO Pierre-Henri Gourgeon: "Signs of a stabilization in our operating environment" have appeared in recent weeks.

7) World Bank President Robert Zoellick: "I believe we are likely to see the rate of decline lessen."

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TFEXX
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NOVU
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NVDA
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UNP
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VZ
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  • A CNBC reporter since 1990, Bob Pisani covers Wall Street from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

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