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Many American business executives believe the sluggish U.S. economy is beginning at last to turn the corner, according to an opinion poll published in Friday's New York Times.

The survey of 490 executives of big and small companies showed that 47 percent were convinced the economy was getting better and only 9 percent thought it was getting worse, the Times said.The executives, top officers of companies with yearly sales of $5 million to $500 million, were polled from Feb. 18 to March 6. The survey was done in conjunction with CBS News.

Last month in a similar poll of the general population only 13 percent of those questioned said the economy was getting better. The Times noted that business people are usually generally more optimistic than the public.

The Times said that many executives apparently were willing to back up their optimsm with their pocketbooks.

The survey showed 52 percent of businesses planned to increase their capacity to produce goods and services. However, only 38 percent of the companies said they intended to take on new employees.