US President Barack Obama is viewed as a capable leader in Europe and Asia as he nears the end of his presidency, but his potential successors are not as popular abroad, a poll released Wednesday said.

A survey by the Pew Research Center of how 16 other countries view the United States found support for a future Hillary Clinton administration but little confidence in her Republican challenger Donald Trump.

Perceptions of Trump were strongly negative: "In nearly half the nations polled, the share of the public with confidence in Trump is in single digits," the report said.

Clinton is widely known worldwide from her years as secretary of state and first lady and received mostly positive marks, although her rating stayed consistently lower than Obama.

Confidence in Trump's abilities was highest in Italy at 21 per cent, but stood at just 3 per cent in Greece and 6 per cent in Sweden and Germany. Perceptions on how well Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping could handle world affairs correctly were marked low as well, Pew reported.

However, countries that viewed Putin and Xi more positively, like Italy and India, tended to view Trump as a better leader as well, though he still garnered overwhelmingly negative reactions.

"Places where you have these very right-wing, populist politicians supported are places more willing to support Trump," David Rennie, a columnist at The Economist said Wednesday at a Atlantic Council panel on the report. "We see the temptation towards a strongman government played out in this data."

Some 83 per cent of respondents in Sweden and 79 per cent in Germany had confidence in Clinton's ability to handle world affairs, the survey found. The former secretary of state received the lowest levels of support from survey-takers in India and China, where just 28 per cent and 37 per cent, respectively, said they had confidence in her.

Obama has been consistently viewed better than his predecessor George W Bush, particularly in Europe. However, views of the US remained negative in the Middle East, excluding Israel, where countries have seen the US as unfavorable.

While European countries may have seen Obama as a better leader than George W Bush throughout his presidency, 2008 marked a downward turn in European views of the US as the world's leading economic power, Pew found. From 2010 to 2015, more Europeans saw China as the leading economic power over the US.

However, data shows that the US recently overtook China again as the perceived economic leader, with 40 per cent of Europeans polled saying the US was leading compared to 35 per cent pointing to China.

"Not too many people answer the EU or Japan, but say it's China or the US," Richard Wike, director of Pew global attitudes research, said. "There've been some interesting changes over the last years on how Europeans see the global economic balance of power," he said.

The survey was conducted from April 4 to May 29 in 10 European nations, four major Asia-Pacific countries, Canada and the United States.

Results for the survey are based on telephone and face-to-face interviews conducted under the direction of Princeton Survey Research Associates International and TNS BMRB. The results are based on national samples.

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