United States overtakes China as top target for CEOs, PwC poll shows

One ounce American gold coins in this arranged photograph. Gold has gained as investors assess the strength of the United States economy amid slumping oil prices. -- PHOTO: BLOOMBERG
One ounce American gold coins in this arranged photograph. Gold has gained as investors assess the strength of the United States economy amid slumping oil prices. -- PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG) - The United States has eclipsed China as the top growth target of global business leaders for the first time in at least five years, according to a survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLC.

Thirty-eight per cent of the more than 1,300 chief executive officers polled ranked the US as their most important market for growth over the next year. That put it ahead of China for the first time since the question was first asked in 2010.

The result reflects how the US economy is speeding up as China's slows, reversing the forces which dominated the global economy since the 2008 financial crisis. How both fare in 2015 is set to be a hot topic of debate when the World Economic Forum's annual meeting starts Wednesday in Davos, Switzerland.

"The world is facing significant challenges: economically, politically and socially," Dennis M. Nally, chairman of PricewaterhouseCoopers International, said in a statement. "CEOs overall remain cautious in their near-term outlook for the worldwide economy, as well as for growth prospects for their own companies."

The executives were more pessimistic about the outlook for the global economy over the next 12 months than they were a year ago, the poll showed. Thirty-seven per cent said the world economy will improve in 2015, down from 44 per cent last year.

Still, the CEOs were upbeat about the prospects for their own companies with 39 percent saying they are "very confident" revenue will grow this year.

In a sign of how sentiment can swing, only 16 per cent of Russian executives were "very confident" about revenue growth for 2015. That's down from 53 per cent last year when they were the most confident in the world.