TORONTO, March 8, 2013 /CNW/ - Optimism about the national economy is down among Canada's executive chartered accountants for the second straight quarter, according to the latest CICA Business Monitor (Q1 2013). Only 26 per cent of those surveyed in the first quarter of 2013 are optimistic about how the Canadian economy will perform over the next 12 months. That is down from 31 per cent in the final quarter of 2012 and from 34 per cent in Q3 2012. Most respondents are neutral or taking a wait and see approach (64 per cent) while 11 per cent are pessimistic about what lies ahead for the economy. Forty-four per cent of the respondents believe the state of the U.S. economy is the strongest challenge to economic growth in Canada. Uncertainty surrounding the Canadian economy and consumer confidence both rank second at 12 per cent. It is worth noting that just seven per cent of respondents cited the European debt crisis. "Uncertainty both at home and south of border is reflected in the survey findings," says Kevin Dancey, FCPA, FCA, president and CEO, Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA)*. "Clearly, most of the executives are waiting for a clearer picture to emerge." Company Performance Just like with the national economy, the executive CAs surveyed are less optimistic about how their companies will perform over the next 12 months. Forty-six per cent of the respondents are optimistic compared with 56 per cent in Q4 2012. "Company optimism generally runs ahead of economic optimism in our research," explains Dancey. "The executives have the best read on their own operations." Despite the dip in company optimism, some encouraging projections are emerging. Seventy per cent of respondents expect their revenues to increase in the next year and 63 per cent are forecasting an increase in profits.