Optimism over the global economy among executives is waning, according to research by consultancy PWC. According to PWC's Global CEO Survey, published during this year's World Economic Forum in Davos, 17% of respondents expect global growth to decline this year, up from 7% in 2014. Meanwhile the number of respondents who expect better economic prospects in the year ahead is down to 37%, as compared with 44% last year.

PWC surveyed executives worldwide for the 18th time, this year's interviewing more than 1300 CEOs in 77 countries. According to the survey, the outlook on global growth varies widely by region. Pollsters from Asia-Pacific and the Middle East are the most positive, with 45% and 44% of them, respectively, expecting improvement in 2015. By comparison, only 16% of executives based in central and eastern Europe stated that this year will be better than the last.

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Similar regional variances can be found in answers regarding revenue growth. Globally, the percentage of respondents that expressed strong confidence in their company's revenue growth in 2015 was 39%. However, in India as many as 62% of CEOs surveyed said that they are very confident about increasing revenue in 2015. In Mexico, the US and Australia, the rate was also higher than the global average at 50%, 46% and 43% respectively. At the other end of the scale are executives from Italy and Argentina, where only 20% and 17% of respondents, respectively, said that they are very confident about increasing revenue in 2015.

Among the issues that worry investors the most, over-regulation tops the list, according to PWC's survey. Regulatory burden was pointed to as the top concern by 78% of those polled, ahead of finding key skills (73%), fiscal deficits and debt burdens (72%) and geopolitical uncertainty (also 72%).

"The world is facing significant challenges: economically, politically and socially. CEOs overall remain cautious in their near-term outlook for the worldwide economy, as well as for growth prospects for their own companies,” said Dennis M Nally, chairman of PWC International after the survey was published. “While some emerging economies continue to expand rapidly, others are slowing. Finding the right strategic balance to sustain growth in this changing marketplace remains a challenge.”