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Weaker domestic demand puts brakes on industrial expansion

The rate of industrial expansion is expected to keep on slowing down

(Keystone Archive)

Slackening growth in Swiss industry looks set to continue, chiefly because of weaker than expected demand in domestic markets, according to a new survey by the UBS financial services group.

The survey of some 300 industrial companies, released on Friday, suggests very strongly that the economy will remain buoyant.

The UBS business cycle indicator, which acts as a trend barometer for GDP, indicates a growth rate of 3.1 per cent in the final quarter of 2000 and 2.6 per cent in the first quarter of this year.

The survey showed that the industrial sector moved significantly off its rapid growth pace in the October to December period. Export demand was more or less in line with the high expectations of the survey participants, but the forecasts for demand in Switzerland were not met.

UBS said that with production still expanding, industrial plants were "humming along" at 90 per cent capacity utilisation.

Employment in industry is also continuing to rise. Apart from the textile industry, all sectors had more staff on the payroll at the end of 2000 than they had a year earlier.

The survey said that bulging order books and the continued high backlog in the final quarter pointed to continued growth. Although exporters are significantly less optimistic than before, they are still more confident than companies focused on the Swiss market.



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