Davos

Business leaders and chief executives of global firms are more pessimistic about growth for the year ahead than they were last year, according to a survey published ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Consultancy giant PwC's survey of more than 1,400 chief executives in 83 countries found that just 27% expect growth to improve this year, compared with 37% last year.

It comes as business, economic and political leaders meet at the annual conference in Davos.

Dennis Nally, global chair of PwC said: "There's no question that business leaders' confidence in both the global economy and their own company growth prospects has taken a knock.

"No matter what the business size, the threats its faces are becoming more complex, crossing the borders of geopolitical, regulation, cyber security, societal developments, people and reputation."

The results of the interviews echo yesterday (Tuesday)'s news that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) cut its forecast for growth in the global economy for 2016 and 2017.

Like the IMF, PwC's report highlighted the slowing Chinese economy and rapidly falling oil prices as key reasons for concern over growth.

Those most likely to expect stronger growth were chief executives from India, whereas those in the US were the most pessimistic. Despite the gloomy outlook, however, most business leaders still expect to continue to hire staff - particularly in the UK.

One topic expected to covered extensively at Davos is trust between businesses, and that was evident in PwC's research. Half of the 1,400 chief executives surveyed said it was a concern, compared to 37% last year.

Mr Nally said: "Re-shaping companies built on profit alone into ones where profit and purpose combine, is not going to happen quickly or easily, but it's a transformation that is already starting and that business need to keep pace with."