By Daniel Hunter

Global business confidence fell to a five-year low in October, according to a survey of more than 6,000 businesses.

The numbers of companies that expected business activity to increase over the next year was 28% ahead of those expecting it to drop.

But that was below the 39% difference seen in last survey conducted in June.

"Clouds are gathering over the global economic outlook, presenting the darkest picture seen since the global financial crisis," said Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit in a statement.

Hiring and investment intentions also fell to the lowest points since the financial crisis.

"A key factor that has held back economic growth in recent years has been the disappointing performance of major emerging market economies, and this looks set to continue, and perhaps even intensify, over the coming year," Mr Williamson added.

British companies surveyed were the most optimistic, however. It came despite the lowest business activity levels in manufacturing and services sectors since June 2013.

"[The optimism] suggests the UK will continue to outperform its peers in 2015, albeit with growth slowing from that seen in 2014," Mr Williamson said.

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