Business leaders still hold a dim view about the state of the economy but have turned more confident about the future, the Conference Board reports.

The group's measure of Business Confidence for the first quarter of 1991 was 39, up from 33 in the fourth quarter of 1990, when it hit a 10-year low.A reading below 50 indicates that negative responses outnumber positive replies. The survey by the business research group polls over 500 chief executive officers accross the nation and in different industries.

Most of the responses in the latest survey were collected in late January and February, before the Gulf war ended, said the Board.

Since the end of the war, consumer confidence has soared, according to a separate poll the board released earlier.

Nearly 30 percent of the business executives surveyed expected the economy to pick up during the next six months, up sharply from 10 percent in the previous survey.