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Businesses are optimistic about the economic outlook; the highest it’s been since 2007.Reuters

Business optimism across the planet has returned to pre-recession highs, according to a report from accountancy major Grant Thornton.

The Grant Thornton International Business Report, which surveyed over 3,000 businesses in 45 economies, found that 44% of global businesses are optimistic about economic growth this year, an increase of 17 percentage points on last year.

Economic uncertainty is now a less commonly cited constraint on growth - down 4% to 38%.

The US, China, Japan, Germany and the UK have all recorded a step up in confidence over the past three months, but leading the way are Ireland, Peru and United Arab Emirates - this economic optimism triumvirate predicted growth at over 90% of surveyed firms.

Despite the optimism, businesses are still not investing enough, according to the report.

The International Monetary Fund is predicting global growth of 3.6% this year which leaves firms in good stead to begin investing more, which will need to happen, stated the report.

Ed Nusbaum, Global CEO at Grant Thornton, says: "There has been a marginal improvement in plans to invest in plant & machinery, but R&D has remained flat and not increased in line with optimism. As IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said recently, greater investment needs to happen if this new found optimism is to be converted into meaningful growth."

Nusbaum said the IBR data provides solid hope that the global recovery is starting to take hold. The rise in optimism closely mirrors recent growth of stock markets around the world.

"We have moved into the first prolonged period of economic stability since the financial crisis and while challenges remain (particularly in the Eurozone, Ukraine and some emerging markets) firms can think and plan for the longer term," he said.