German business confidence slips back from 2 ½ year high as Ukraine crisis clouds outlook

A closely watched survey shows business confidence in Germany slipping back from a 2 ½-year high as tensions over Ukraine cloud companies' outlook for the next six months.

The Ifo institute said Tuesday that its monthly confidence index dropped to 110.7 points this month from 111.3 in February. That was a slightly worse figure than the 110.9 economists had predicted.

Executives' assessment of their current situation improved but their six-month outlook darkened, meaning that the overall index fell from the first time since October.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has stressed that she wants a diplomatic solution to the crisis over Russia's actions in Ukraine but has made clear she won't shy away from economic sanctions if the situation there escalates.