Worldwide business confidence slumped to a five-year low, with company hiring and investment intentions at or near their weakest levels in the post-global financial crisis era, according to a new survey, CNBC reported.
"Clouds are gathering over the global economic outlook, presenting the darkest picture seen since the global financial crisis," said Chris Williamson, chief economist at financial information provider Markit was quoted as saying.
The number of companies expecting their business activity to be higher in a years' time exceeded those expecting a decline by just 28 per cent, CNBC reported. This was below the net balance of 39 per cent recorded in July, the latest Markit Global Business Outlook Survey, released on Monday, showed.
The survey, which is published three times a year, looked at expectations for the year ahead across 6,100 manufacturing and services companies worldwide, said CNBC.
Optimism in manufacturing fell to its lowest since mid-2013 but remained ahead of that seen in services, where confidence about the outlook slumped to the lowest in the survey's five-year history, CNBC reported.
Global hiring intentions slid to within a whisker of the all-time low seen in June of last year, deteriorating in the U.S., Japan, the U.K., euro zone, Russia and Brazil, said CNBC.
The survey highlighted a growing list of concerns among companies about the outlook for the year ahead including a worsening global economic climate, the prospect of higher interest rates in countries such as the U.K. and U.S. and geopolitical risk from crises in Ukraine and the Middle East.
Mr Williamson the biggest concern was the slide in business optimism and expansion plans in the U.S. to the weakest seen over the past five years.
"U.S. growth therefore looks likely to have peaked over the summer months, with a slowing trend signaled for coming months," he was quoted as saying.