BERLIN (Reuters) - Far fewer investors believe a member of the euro zone will be forced to abandon the currency over the next year than did so in previous months, according to a survey released on Wednesday.
The December poll of 778 investors by research group Sentix showed that 25 percent of respondents expect one or more states to leave the 17-nation bloc over the next 12 months.
That was down from 32.7 percent in November and a high of 73.3 percent reached in June of last year, when the Sentix Euro Breakup Index was launched.
Since then, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi unveiled a plan to buy up the bonds of stricken euro members and German Chancellor Angela Merkel paid her first visit to Greece since the euro crisis started. This was seen by many as a sign of her commitment to keeping the country in the bloc.
These steps, along with a successful buyback of Greek debt last month, have eased financial market tensions, prompting senior European officials, including German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble last week, to say the worst of the crisis is over.
Greece remains the most likely country to leave the euro, according to Sentix, with 22.5 percent of investors predicting a so-called "Grexit" within the next year.
Behind Greece was Cyprus at 9.6 percent. For Italy, Spain and Portugal, only 2.0 to 2.5 percent of investors are forecasting an exit.
"These readings show that investors do not expect a sudden euro end for the above mentioned countries anymore," Sentix said.
Among the northern countries, 3.3 percent of investors expect Finland to leave within a year, followed by Germany at 2.1 percent.
(Reporting by Noah Barkin)