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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 January, 2004, 11:12 GMT
Business leaders rediscover their optimism

By Tim Weber
BBC News Online business editor in Davos

Chinese workers on the assembly line of a Ford Motor plant in Chongqing, Sichuan, Southwestern China,
Businesses are more upbeat
Business leaders around the world are optimistic again about their companies' prospects, a survey suggests.

More than 80% of chief executives surveyed by business advisory firm PricewaterhouseCoopers said they were "confident" or "very confident" about revenue growth at their companies over the next year and three years.

Company bosses in the United States are particularly bullish about the future, while European chief executives are still worried by slow growth prospects.

Losing out will be workers in Europe and South America, where two-thirds of companies are thinking hard about outsourcing jobs to low-wage countries.

In the US, just a third of chief executives have outsourcing on their list of cost-cutting measures.

Fragile technology sector

Spending on research and development "always an indicator of future growth" is more robust as well.

After the economic bust of 2001, many companies slashed research budgets to save costs.

Now chief executives are much less likely to do so, and especially Asian companies are betting that such investments will deliver returns.

However, the technology sector continues to be the exception, where the recovery is still very fragile.

PwC surveyed nearly 1,400 chief executives around the world during the last three months of 2003.

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