Optimism is growing among Canadian manufacturers and exporters for an improvement in economic conditions, according to the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters' (CME) March Business Conditions Survey. The survey found that the number of respondents who expect orders to decrease between March and June fell to 49 percent, a reduction from the 56 percent who expected a decrease when polled last month. In addition, 13 percent of companies expect to increase employment over the next three months, a 2 percent increase over last month's survey, and the number of companies planning layoffs decreased to 42 percent, a 3 percent reduction since the February survey. "It's a glimmer of hope in an otherwise bleak outlook," says Jayson Myers, CME president. "I believe the real economic impacts are still to be felt, but it is encouraging news that the economic decline appears to be slowing." The CME conducted the survey during the first two weeks of March and surveyed 717 companies.