Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) -- Swiss watch exports ended their longest slump on record as demand revived in March, leading to the first gain in 21 months as shipments to Hong Kong revived after a slump of more than two years.

Exports rose 7.5 percent to 1.6 billion francs ($1.6 billion), the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry said in a statement Thursday. The result benefited from two extra working days and faced an easier year-earlier comparison, when shipments slid 16 percent. Adjusted for work days, they fell 2.6 percent.

Higher demand for Rolex, Omega and Cartier watches is good news for Switzerland, which gets about a tenth of its exports from timepieces. Optimism that the worst may be over spread amid improving trends in Asia and returning Chinese tourists to Europe after terrorist attacks in the region scared away travelers. Shipments recorded the biggest annual drop in seven years in 2016 as high-end timepieces went unsold on retailers’ shelves in Hong Kong, the industry’s largest market.

Shipments to Hong Kong rallied 18 percent, ending 25 months of steep declines. China rallied 38 percent, the biggest advance in two years, continuing its recovery with a sixth consecutive monthly gain. Exports to the U.S. rose 16 percent.

To contact the reporter on this story: Corinne Gretler in Zurich at cgretler1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Eric Pfanner at epfanner1@bloomberg.net, Thomas Mulier

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