U.S. chief executives took a slightly less grim view of the economy in the second quarter, but still plan to cut jobs and capital spending, according to a Business Roundtable survey released on Tuesday.

The quarterly CEO Economic Outlook Index rebounded to 18.5 in the second quarter of 2009, up from a record low of negative 5 in the first quarter, but still the third-lowest reading in the survey's six-year history. A reading below 50 means CEOs expect contraction rather than growth.

Corporate chieftains still plan to cut costs for the next six months, with 51 percent intending to reduce capital spending and 49 percent expecting to cut U.S. jobs. Forty-six percent anticipate a decline in sales.

Member CEOs expect real U.S. gross domestic product to decline by 2.1 percent in 2009, a sharper contraction than the 1.9 percent annual decline forecast in the first quarter.

Business Roundtable member companies, who were surveyed June 1 through June 12, together employ almost 10 million people and generate about $5 trillion in annual revenue.

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)