The tri-annual survey, published on Monday, looked at expectations for the year ahead across 6,100 manufacturing and services companies worldwide.
Optimism in manufacturing fell to its lowest since mid-2013 but remained ahead of that seen in services, where confidence about the outlook slumped to the lowest in the survey's five-year history.
Hiring, investment to slow
Global hiring intentions slid to within a whisker of the all-time low seen in June of last year, deteriorating in the U.S., Japan, the U.K., euro zone, Russia and Brazil.
"U.K. firms were the most upbeat about employment plans among major economies, while French firms were the most downbeat, France being the only country where a net drop in employment is indicated for the year ahead," Markit said in the report.
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Investment intentions also collapsed to a new post-crisis low across major economies.
China and India bucked the trend, however, with capital expenditure plans in the two countries improving.
Laundry list of concerns
The survey highlighted a growing list of concerns among companies about the outlook for the year ahead including a worsening global economic climate, the prospect of higher interest rates in countries such as the U.K. and U.S. and geopolitical risk emanating from crises in Ukraine and the Middle East.
"Of greatest concern is the slide in business optimism and expansion plans in the U.S. to the weakest seen over the past five years. U.S. growth therefore looks likely to have peaked over the summer months, with a slowing trend signaled for coming months," Williamson said.