CEO confidence has been flat since Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell announced last month that the agency would be “patient” in determining future interest rate hikes, IBM’s Ginni Rometty told CNBC Tuesday.
“I think it’s been fairly steady and I hear from all of my colleagues that everyone is still planning … both ways” whether for “growth or efficiency,” Rometty said on “Squawk on the Street” during a sit down with CNBC’s Jon Fortt from the Think 2019 conference in San Francisco.
Many investors have been uncertain about the prospects of the markets this year. Some are bracing for the bull rally to continue running while others are preparing for stocks to fall the other way. Earlier last month, Powell said the central bank would keep an eye on economic growth throughout the year and adjust monetary policy if growth slows.
That’s left Wall Street watchers and company executives in limbo, who are adjusting their own plans to Fed policy. Markets began to swing up after Powell’s comments, but CEO sentiment has remained the same, said Rometty, who is also chair and president of IBM.
“Over a curve over time … you would’ve seen more toward the growth side,” she said. But “I see that balance now between growth and efficiency initiatives and I actually see that staying very firm.”
Rometty also announced that IBM would open its Watson artificial intelligence service to all cloud platforms, not just IBM’s cloud. The move will give IBM customers capability to manage and run data under the clouds run by providers like Microsoft and Amazon.
“Watson can run on your premise … it can run on any cloud and it can connect between them,” Rometty said. “This is a big piece — not just of Watson — a big piece of hybrid cloud,” she said, referring to the idea of mixing on-premises software with services from multiple cloud providers. “We think that’s a trillion dollar market and we’ll be number 1 in it.”
Shares of IBM are trading about 1.4 percent higher as of midday. The stock is up almost 20 percent this year.