Despite Trump, EU elections and Brexit, business leaders are more positive going into 2017: Report

Why business leaders are surprisingly positive on 2017

The world's business leaders are increasingly confident about going into 2017, despite the large number of political uncertainties ahead, a survey shows.

After years of economic struggles, businesses are entering the new year with expectations that they are about to enter a new phase.

According to the consultancy firm Grant Thornton's, which surveyed more than 2,500 businesses across 37 economies, business optimism was higher in the last quarter of 2016 than it was in the previous year.

Net optimism stood at 38 percent in the fourth quarter, a five percentage point increase from the previous three-month period.

"The highest figures we've seen since the later part of 2015," Francesca Lagerberg, global leader at Grant Thornton told CNBC on Tuesday.

"We've seen some big events happened over the last few months and now we know where the parameters are," she explained.

In particular, optimism among business leaders in the U.S. jumped from 43 percent to 54 percent between the last two quarters of 2016. This timeframe includes the presidential election, where Donald Trump's victory surprised pollsters.

In Europe, sentiment moved from 28 percent to 34 percent also between the third and the fourth quarter. The new year is set to be particularly volatile for European politics with elections in several key member states, at a moment when populism is on the rise and the U.K. prepares to negotiate its exit from the EU.

Nonetheless, the survey showed that leaders expect higher selling prices and profits. As a result, they have increased investment plans, including in research and development and plant and machinery.

According to Lagerberg, businesses might be fed up with the long economic hurdles they faced and want to start a new chapter.

Businesses "have held fire for quite a while," she told CNBC, explaining that there have been "very difficult" economic struggles in the big regions. These are now wondering "how long can you hold off if you want success in the future."