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Optimism about economic expansion is on the rise among senior finance executives around the world and in the U.S., reaching its highest level in the four years that the American Express/CFO Research Global Business & Spending Monitor has been conducted. As economic recovery takes hold, global finance executives are increasingly willing to spend on business travel to support growth. According to the study, more than 40 percent of finance executives plan to spend more on travel this year, whereas only 26 percent reported plans for more business travel spending in 2010. With many companies sitting on large cash surpluses, global finance executives report that they will also deploy more capital toward mergers and acquisitions as well as revenue drivers such as marketing, sales and customer service."Finance executives are finally moving away from budget cuts and opening up the company coffers to drive growth," said Janey Whiteside, senior vice president of Global Client Group, American Express Corporate Payment Solutions. "We will see greater spending to win and retain customers as businesses jockey for positions in a recovering economy."The study surveyed 665 senior finance executives from the U.S., Europe, Canada, Latin America, Asia and Australia, with company revenues ranging from $500 million to more than $20 billion. The research program -- which included an online survey and interviews with senior finance executives -- was completed in April 2011. As economic prospects continue to improve, finance executives will spend in order to capitalize on a better business environment with investments on customer experience, deal-making and development activities such as sales and marketing, the study predicts.