ZURICH / Bloomberg
The Swiss economy returned to growth at the end of last year as it fought off the impact of a currency shock that had threatened to push the country into a
Gross domestic product rose 0.4 percent in the three months through December, after contracting 0.1 percent in the prior quarter, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs in Bern said on Wednesday. That’s the strongest quarter in a year and beats the median economist estimate for a 0.1 percent increase.
Despite the better-than-forecast performance in the fourth quarter, the economy still suffered its worst year since 2009. That can be traced in part to last January, when the Swiss National Bank abolished its currency cap, sending the franc surging and hitting exports to the euro area. The central bank expects the economy to expand about 1.5 percent in 2016.
Adding to the headwinds has been a slowdown in China and other emerging markets, on which some Swiss exporters had pinned their hopes in a bid to offset weak demand in Europe.
Exports of pricey Swiss watches, popular in China and Hong Kong, experienced their first annual drop since 2009 last year.
As for the machine, electrical and metals companies, industry body Swissmem termed 2015 an “annus horribilis” and reported a 14 percent slump in new orders.
Government expenditure increased by 0.6% and exports of goods excluding non-monetary gold, valuables and merchanting rose by 2.9 percent. Third-quarter GDP had initially been reported as stagnating.