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Swiss watch exports dropped 3.8 percent in December, led by a plunge in shipments to Hong Kong and ending 2015 with the first annual drop in six years. For the year, shipments slipped 3.3 percent to 21.5 billion Swiss francs ($21.2 billion), the Swiss customs office said in a statement Tuesday. That compares with a 1.9 percent rise the previous year, when the value of sales reached a record 22.3 billion francs. The last annual slump was in 2009, when exports fell 22 percent.
The Swiss watch industry is struggling as stock markets tumble worldwide and after the Paris terror attacks in November dented the number of wealthy Asian tourists purchasing expensive timepieces in Europe. Shipments will increase 2 percent this year, according to the median estimate of 11 analysts in a Bloomberg survey.
While exports to Hong Kong slid 21 percent in December, China recorded a 5.5 percent advance, benefiting from a favorable comparison base in the year-earlier period. Shipments of watches costing 200 francs to 500 francs suffered the most, slumping 15 percent.
By Corinne Gretler, Bloomberg.