As Takeshi Niinami, CEO of Japan's Suntory Group, moved around this year's World Economic Forum in Davos, he could sense a shift in the corporate mood. "Compared with last year it is a lot more gloomy," observed Niinami, who has been coming to Davos for more than a decade. It was a sentiment echoed by many business leaders this week. In January 2018 the Davos event was shaped by a surprising sense of exuberance as executives hailed the strong pace of global economic growth and business-friendly policies unveiled by US President Donald Trump, who swept into the Swiss town, mesmerising the attendees. This year, however, there was a striking paucity of national leaders as Trump, Theresa May of the UK, Justin Trudeau of Canada and Emmanuel Macron of France all stayed away due to domestic woes. And while the vacuum created pushed more CEOs into the spotlight, the lack of political star power was accompanied by a distinctly downbeat - if not nervous - atmosphere. "The mood is pretty flat ...

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