A participant is reflected in a mirror during the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos. Picture: Reuters

Davos, Switzerland - Executives around the globe are more pessimistic about the growth prospects of their businesses than they were a year ago, according to a study released Tuesday, on the eve of the World Economic Forum in the Swiss town of Davos.

Only 36 per cent of the 1,300 managers polled said they were “very confident” about developments this year, down from 40 per cent for 2012 and 48 per cent for 2011, according to the survey by British consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

PwC chairman Dennis Nally said that “given the high levels of concern among CEOs about issues - such as over-regulation, government debt, capital market instability - it is no surprise that CEO confidence has declined in the last 12 months.”

Business leaders were the most pessimistic in Western Europe, where only 22 per cent were very hopeful about 2013.

The rate was 33 per cent for North America.

The outlook was brightest in emerging economies Russia and India, where a respective 66 per cent and 63 per cent of the surveyed managers were very optimistic.

The global outlook for businesses and economies was set to be the focus of the World Economic Forum's first day on Wednesday, when European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev were scheduled to give speeches.

Draghi said this month that it was too early to declare victory in the eurozone's battle against its long-running debt crisis, despite signs of improvement in financial markets. - Sapa-dpa