WASHINGTON -- As major financial figures prepare to gather in Davos, Switzerland, this week, experts are a bit more optimistic about the state of the global economy, according to a survey released Monday by the World Economic Forum.
The group's Economic Confidence Index rose to 0.43 from last quarter's 0.38 reading, driven by an improved outlook in North America after U.S. officials averted the fiscal cliff, the group said.
Still, the index -- which ranges from zero to one -- was not in optimistic territory, according to the group.
"The first Economic Confidence Index result of 2013 gives us some cause for optimism, but the figure is still in negative territory overall," said Martina Gmür, senior director of the forum's Network of Global Agenda Councils. "We still need dynamic leadership to drive the economy ahead and overcome challenges."
Among the 390 respondents in the survey, the number with a pessimistic outlook for the economy in 2013 dropped to 43 percent, from 56 percent at the end of last year. The percentage of those with an optimistic outlook rose to 23 percent from 17 percent.
The findings marked the second-highest level of confidence in the global economy since the index began in 2011.
Fears that the global economy would face a financial shock over the next year dropped to their lowest level in the seven quarters of the index, with just 48 percent of the respondents saying such a shock was probable.
The figure was down 5 percentage points from last quarter and 20 points from last summer, according to the forum, which hosts the annual high-powered economic gathering of heads of state and business leaders at the Swiss resort.
The theme of this year's annual meeting, which runs Wednesday through Sunday, is "Resilient Dynamism."