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GDP growth slows in first quarter

Switzerland’s real gross domestic product in the first quarter of 2010 grew by 2.2 per cent against the same period in 2009.

This was thanks to private consumers and an increase in exports of “precious objects” – precious metals, gems and art objects - the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) reported on Tuesday.

From quarter to quarter, however, the Swiss economy grew more slowly than in previous months, with real GDP expanding 0.4 per cent over the last quarter of 2009,

People spending money on food, beverages, telecommunications, housing services and energy consumption helped fuel the quarterly growth; they spent less on health and education.

For the first time following three quarters of growth, government spending fell to -1.4 per cent, while purchases of software and equipment tumbled 0.8 per cent.

Seco said exports of goods and services felt an “extraordinarily strong” impact from a boom in sales of precious metals, gems, art and antiques.

All tallied, the export sector grew by 5.6 per cent in early 2010. Export prices, however, were three per cent below the respective value of the previous year.

“On the production side, the upward momentum in the first quarter of 2010 enjoyed a relatively wide support, although not all of the sectors could make a positive contribution,” Seco wrote in a statement.

Industry, building trade and telecommunications achieved “considerable” growth ranging from 0.7 to 1.1 per cent, while financial and public services declined slightly with a real net output of 0.1 per cent each.

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