U.S. corporations continue to accumulate cash, with the latest data showing that companies were holding $1.79 trillion at the end of last year, up from $1.77 trillion at the end of the third quarter. And it's not clear whether there's anything on the horizon that could encourage companies to start putting some of that money to use.

However, U.S. companies are not alone in holding sizable amounts of cash, since the trend is also clear among European companies, according to Anthony Carfang, a partner and director at consultancy Treasury Strategies.

"It's not as if a couple of corporate treasurers have said, 'Hey, let's hoard cash,'" Carfang said during a briefing last month. "Higher cash levels seem to be the way that companies are managing risk and uncertainty," he said.

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Susan Kelly

Susan Kelly is a business journalist who has written for Treasury & Risk, FierceCFO, Global Finance, Financial Week, Bridge News and The Bond Buyer.