NEW YORK: The Goldman Sachs Confidence Index, reveals ebbing confidence among a majority of the planet's business leaders. The study, conducted in the last week of July and the first week in August, is seen as a leading indicator of corporate sentiment.

It asks chief executives within major corporations to assess business conditions for the quarter ahead.

Their outlook has declined dramatically, after buoyant readings in the past several quarters. Concerns centre around the turbulent financial markets and mixed US economic data.

The headline reading for the global business outlook for Q3 stands at 33 - plummeting from the Q2 reading of 57. A score of fifty indicates the line between executives who think conditions are improving and those who feel they are worsening.

Goldman Sachs global economist Sandra Lawson is not afraid to state the blindingly obvious: "There is an enormous amount of uncertainty about the outlook in the near-term," she says.

Striving to find an upside Lawson adds: "But if the credit shock hurts private equity, it may also provide an opportunity for corporates, especially as deal multiples come down."

An observation that rivals the apocryphal Titanic passenger who said as they lowered the lifeboats: "At least it's good weather for the time of year."

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff