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The United States' competitiveness ranking among major economies rose to third place Wednesday in new results of an annual global survey.

The World Economic Forum report said the U.S. improved its competitiveness for the second consecutive year, moving up two places based on gains in the nation's institutional framework, including its financial markets, and its innovation scores.

The U.S. ranked high in labor market efficiency, efficient use of talent and capacity to attract and retain that talent, along with the availability of financial services, the report showed.

Only Switzerland and Singapore finished higher in the overall rankings. In order, Finland, Germany, Japan, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Sweden rounded out the top ten.

The World Economic Forum calculates the results by assessing country-level data in 12 economic categories, such as infrastructure quality and technological readiness. The Switzerland-based non-profit organization hosts the annual gathering of world business and government leaders in Switzerland's Davos ski resort each winter.

The report showed that Spain, Portugal and Greece, all hard hit by Europe's economic struggles, have improved the functioning of their markets and allocation of productive resources. But France and Italy appeared to lag in that process, the report found.

In Asia, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam all rose in the report's 2014 rankings.

Chile continued to lead the regional rankings among South American and Central American nations, with Panama and Costa Rica not far behind, the report showed.

Sub-Saharan Africa continued to register growth rates close to 5%, the report found. However, only Mauritius, South Africa and Rwanda scored in the top half of the rankings.

In the Middle East and North Africa, the United Arab Emirates rose to 12th place in the rankings, ahead of Qatar, in 16th place. The next highest-ranked North African nation was Morocco, in 72nd place, the report showed.

Klaus Schwab, the World Economic Forum's founder and executive chairman, warned that the health of the global economy remains at risk despite recent signs of a rebound. "The strained global geopolitical situation, the rise of income inequality and the potential tightening of the financial conditions could put the still tentative recovery at risk and call for structural reforms to ensure more sustainable and inclusive growth," Schwab said in a statement issued with the report.

There are signs of an end to the decoupling between emerging economies and developed nations that characterized the years after the global financial downturn, said Xavier Sala-i-Martin, an economics professor at Columbia University in New York.

"Now we see a new kind of decoupling, between high and low growth economies within both emerging and developed worlds," said Sala-i-Martin. "Here, the distinguishing feature for economies that are able to grow rapidly is their ability to attain competitiveness through structural reform."

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