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One out of four investors expects euro zone to lose a member: survey

BERLIN (Reuters) - The number of investors expecting the euro zone to lose at least one member state in the coming months has increased, a survey showed on Tuesday, with the risk of contagion now seen as bigger than during the height of the debt crisis in 2012/13.

The Frankfurt-based Sentix research group said its monthly "euro break-up" index, based on a survey of around 1,000 institutional and retail investors, rose to 25.2 percent in February from 21.3 percent in January.

This means one out of four investors now believes that at least one euro zone member state will quit the single currency in the next 12 months.

A separate gauge measuring the risk of contagion rose above 45 percent, surpassing levels last seen during the peak of the 2012/13 euro zone debt crisis, Sentix said.

"After two years absence, the euro crisis is back in the spotlight," Sentix researcher Manfred Huebner said. "However, this time is different. The protagonists have multiplied as France and Italy now join Greece as likely exit candidates."

The sub-index for Greece showed that roughly one out of five investors expects the indebted country to quit the single currency while the risk of Italy leaving the euro zone was put lower at around 14 percent.

The sub-index for France rose to 8.4 percent, its highest level so far in the survey, Sentix said.

Huebner attributed the increased exit probabilities to uncertainty among investors about forecasters' ability to predict election outcomes accurately.

"Investors fear forecasters might get it wrong again after last year's surprise victory of (U.S. President Donald) Trump and Brexit," he said.

Huebner added, however, that the probability of a surprise victory of anti-euro, far-right leader Marine Le Pen in France's presidential race was less likely.

(Reporting by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Ken Ferris)