German investor confidence plunged sharply in October, a closely watched survey said today, dragged down by fears over US-China trade tensions and a hard Brexit. 
               
The ZEW economic institute's barometer, based on a poll of 194 analysts and financial players, fell by 14.1 points to -24.7.

This was the steepest month-on-month drop since Britain voted to leave the European Union in June 2016. 

The reading came in much weaker than analysts surveyed by Factset had predicted, signalling growing concern among Germany's export-oriented firms about the future as a multitude of risks loom. 

"Expectations for the German economy are dampening above all due to the intensifying trade dispute between the USA and China," ZEW President Professor Achim Wambach said in a statement. 

"The resulting negative expectations for German exports are now beginning to show in the actual development of exports," the Professor added. 

Driven by President Donald Trump's "America First" policies, the US and China have imposed a series of tariffs on each other in recent months, raising fears of knock-on effects for the global economy. 

The stalled negotiations on Britain's withdrawal from the EU are also weighing on investors' minds in Germany, Ambach said, as the danger of a so-called "hard Brexit" becomes "ever more likely". 
             
The October survey means investor sentiment is back to the same weak figure of -24.7 points seen in July, when the index hit its lowest level since 2012. 
             
This month's reading remains well below the ZEW survey's long-term average of 22.8 points.