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Crimea hits investors

GERMAN investor confidence fell to its lowest since August as political uncertainty in Ukraine threatened to impact on a recovery in Europe's largest economy that may be nearing its peak.

The ZEW Centre for European Economic Research in Mannheim predicted a third month of decline in February.

While German economic growth of 0.4pc in the fourth quarter beat analysts' estimates, tensions with Russia over its seizure of Crimea, an economic slowdown in China and a muted revival in the rest of the single-currency region risk damping output.

The eurozone, Germany's largest trading partner, is struggling with low inflation and near-record unemployment even as periphery countries are returning to growth.