Optimism among chief financial officers grew in the first quarter on moderate jobs growth, rising earnings and an upswing in capital investments, accounting firm Deloitte said a first-quarter survey of CFOs. 

While reports show corporate earnings beginning to level off, they are still moving in an upwardly direction, causing CFOs to be somewhat optimistic. On the downside, revenue year-over-year continues to decline. 

Still, Deloitte noted that Europe's debt issues continue to linger along with economic uncertainty, so it's possible CFOs are only optimistic when comparing today's data to more pessimistic periods in the recent past.

"What is not clear is whether CFOs are optimistic in absolute terms, or just optimistic relative to where they were over the past two tumultuous quarters," Deloitte wrote.

Today, broader market sentiment is up, the accounting firm said. Both the Dow and the S&P 500 valuations rose approximately 15% since the last CFO survey. The CFOs expect domestic hiring gains to reach 2.1%, with half of CFOs projecting an uptick in hiring. 

Heading into 2012, U.S. firms had about $2 trillion in cash sitting on their balance sheets, with most of that cash now held in government bonds, bank deposits and money market accounts. 

kpanchuk@housingwire.com