U.S. chief executives expect to see continued strength in the U.S. economy over the next six months, according to a quarterly survey released by the Business Roundtable Thursday.

The survey of Roundtable members — CEOs from large U.S. companies — found the overall CEO Economic Outlook index rose to 102.2 in March from 101.4 in December. It was the second highest reading for the index, behind only a 104.4 reading in the March 2005 survey. Any number higher than 50 indicates economic expansion.

Overall economic growth is expected to be 3.2 percent in 2006, compared with 3.5 percent in 2005 and down from their prior view of 3.3 percent.

The survey also found that 85 percent expect sales to increase over the next six months, down from 87 percent in its December survey.

Of the CEOs responding to the survey, 50 percent expected to increase capital spending, compared with 56 percent in the prior survey, and some 43 percent expected to increase employment, compared with 40 percent three months ago.

The survey was compiled using responses from 125 of the 160 Business Roundtable member companies.

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