(Adds Ifo economist, sectors, background)
BERLIN, March 25 (Reuters) - German business morale tumbled in March to its lowest level since 2009, a survey showed on Wednesday, with an Ifo institute economist saying Europe's largest economy could contract by as much as 20% this year due to the impact of the coronavirus.
The Ifo institute said final results from its March survey showed that its business climate index slumped to 86.1 from 96.0 in February.
"This is the steepest fall recorded since German reunification and the lowest value since July 2009," Ifo President Clemens Fuest said in a statement.
"The German economy is in shock," Fuest said, adding that business expectations in particular had darkened as never before while companies' assessment of their current situation also worsened sharply.
In the service sector, the business climate indicator posted its steepest drop since the data was first collected in 2005, Ifo said.
In manufacturing, the index fell to its lowest level since August 2009, with the sub-index for expectations posting the steepest drop in 70 years of industry surveys, Ifo said.
Ifo economist Klaus Wohlrabe told Reuters that the German economy could contract by between 5% and 20% this year depending on the length of the shutdown caused by the pandemic.
Wohlrabe added he expected there to be a severe recession in Europe's largest economy that would last for at least two quarters.
The government expects gross domestic product to shrink by roughly 5% this year due to the outbreak.
The Ifo figures chimed with Markit's survey among purchasing managers released on Tuesday that showed Germany's service sector suffered a record contraction in March, pushing down overall business activity to the lowest level since the global financial crisis in 2009. (Reporting by Michael Nienaber and Rene Wagner Editing by Riham Alkousaa and Thomas Escritt)
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