The nation's top private company executives grew more pessimistic about the U.S. economy over the fourth quarter, according PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Among more than 250 CEOs surveyed in both the service and manufacturing sectors, only 29 percent had a positive outlook on the domestic economy, the lowest level since the quarterly surveys were launched 16 year ago.

As a result, expected revenue growth for businesses operating solely in the U.S. market dropped by 22 percent over the past year to 13.4 percent.

By contrast, optimism in the global market among CEOs declined at a slower pace, dropping to 55 percent from 73 percent during the same period last year, the survey found. Expected revenue growth by CEOs whose businesses operated in the global market fell by only 6 percent to 19.3 percent.

"It's clear that companies involved in the international marketplace feel more opportunities will be available over the next 12 months," Ken Esch, a partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers Private Company Services practice, said in a statement.