NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - Private companies are feeling less confident about the prospects for the U.S. economy, with only 45% of executives surveyed by PricewaterhouseCoopers expressing optimism about the coming 12 months.

The drop - down to 45% voicing optimism in the most recent quarter vs 51% in the previous quarter, is the result of lingering economic uncertainty and concern about new taxes and regulations, Ken Esch, a partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers' Private Company Services practice, said in a statement.

PricewaterhouseCoopers' Private Company Trendsetter Barometer tracks the views of 250 chief executive officers and chief financial officers in the product and service sectors, with companies averaging $290.8 million in enterprise revenue/sales.

"Trendsetter CEOs continue to experience a challenging pricing environment for goods and services due to economic pressure at home and abroad," Esch said.

Here are highlights from the survey:

--Concern about demand was cited by 78% of respondents compared with 74% in the previous survey.

--Concern about increased taxation was cited by 52% compared with 45% previously.

--54% plan to add employees to their workforce over the next 12 months; 44% plan no change and 2 % plan to reduce their workforce

--29% plan major capital investments over the next 12 months, down from 32% previously.

--Written by Glenn Hall in New York.

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Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors and reporters from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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