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Swiss watch exports decline in April as sector slump deepens

[ZURICH] Swiss watch exports suffered a second straight double-digit decline as the industry grapples with a global slowdown not seen since the 2009 financial crisis.

Shipments fell 11 per cent in April, and they declined 15 per cent adjusted for working days, Switzerland's customs office said in a statement Tuesday. Exports have fallen for the past 10 months and the drop was 16 per cent in March. Exports to China plunged 36 per cent, another sign of the sharp falloff in luxury-goods sales in the world's second-biggest economy, while shipments were also down across most of Europe.

"Watch exports continued bearing their cross," the customs office said.

The decline in April was mostly due to a drop in timepieces with wholesale prices of 3,000 francs (S$4,232) and up, the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry said. Richemont, the maker of Cartier watches, said last week that sales plunged 18 per cent in April. Its stock has lost a third of its value in the past year and was down 1.5 per cent in early trading in Zurich. Swatch Group AG shares fell 1.3 per cent.