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European business confidence falls amid trade tensions

LONDON — A survey of dozens of Europe’s top business executives shows their optimism is waning due to trade tensions and other geopolitical uncertainties.

A poll of 50 CEOs and chairmen carried out by German research group ZEW shows that while the outlook for business is slightly positive overall, employment and investment prospects are down.

Only about 25% of executives expect to increase investment in Europe in the next six months, with less than 50% expecting to create more jobs.

The findings highlight economists’ concerns that the stresses on manufacturing and trade created by the U.S.-China trade war and Brexit are affecting the wider economy.

The report surveyed executives of the European Round Table for Industry, a trade association, and was seen by The Associated Press ahead of its release Friday.

The European Round Table for Industry said the findings should encourage the incoming European Commission to focus on bolstering innovation, particularly in the digital and environmental sectors, and further integrating the economies of the European Union.

“While European industry’s current outlook is broadly positive, there are real structural challenges inhibiting companies from investing, creating jobs and competing with the rest of the world,” said Martin Brudermueller, chairman of chemicals giant BASF and the head of the ERT’s group on innovation.

The Associated Press