Uncertainty over economic growth is continuing to vex the world's top chief executives.
Some 28% of those polled by accountancy firm PWC are expecting a further decline in the global economy, which is an improvement on the previous year, though only 18% believe things will pick up.
PWC says the 52% expect activity to remain stalled this year.
Firms are also less upbeat about their own prospects, particularly in Europe.
PWC New Zealand chief executive Bruce Hassal says the effects of the euro debt crisis and the US's fiscal standoff continue to linger.
Mr Hassal expects firms will keep costs down, be selective about what they invest in and try new avenues to promote their goods and services to consumers.