A weak automobile market has put a dent in figures for Switzerland's aluminium manufacturers who say business in early 2009 slipped 40 per cent.
The Swiss Aluminium Association announced on Monday that factories processed 3,700 tons of light metal in the first quarter compared to 6,100 tons for the same period last year.
The die-casting sector, which is closely tied to the struggling automobile industry, was hit particularly hard, the association said.
The figures show that the industry has slipped further into a recession that began in mid-2008. Global orders for rolling mills and presses slipped 5.8 per cent to 166,400 tons compared to a record year in 2007.
Most of Switzerland's aluminium is exported, largely to the European Union. But domestic use in 2008 also appears to have slipped about four per cent to 183,800 tons compared to the previous year.
As a result, producers have had to layoff workers and cut back on hours. Industry experts say they do not expect business to turnaround until 2010 at the earliest.
swissinfo.ch with agencies
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