Swiss manufacturers give cautiously optimistic outlook

Orders figures are pointing the right way for electrical and mechanical engineering manufacturers Keystone

Companies that produce electrical and mechanical goods in Switzerland are feeling a lot happier about their future prospects than at any time since the franc soared against the euro in January 2015.

This content was published on August 31, 2016 minutes

The uptick in sentiment has been driven mainly by 9.6% increase in orders in the first half of this year, compared to the same period in 2015. As a result, more than a third of such firms are feeling confident about business prospects in the next 12 months, according to industry lobby group SwissmemExternal link.

While first half sales fell 3.5% in the first half of 2016, they had shown signs of improvement in the last three months. The lobby group is therefore confident that its members had weathered the worst of the strong franc storm, triggered by the Swiss National Bank abandoning its euro peg 20 months ago.

“Current figures for the MEM industries indicate that the nadir has been passed. Companies’ expectations are also cautiously optimistic,” Swissmem said in a statement. Even Britain’s decision to leave the European Union has failed to make much of an impact either in orders or sentiment.

Exports picked up 3.4% to the European Union and 2.6% to the United States, but fell -6.4% to Asia.

But many companies are still bearing the scars of the strong franc that overnight forced up the price of their goods in the prime European market. This forced the industry to shed 9,200 jobs since January 2015, according to Swissmem.

The lobby group repeated earlier calls for voters to reject business unfriendly people’s initiatives, and for the government to rapidly resolve issues with the European Union.

Swissmem industries, that include fine tools and machinery manufacturers, comprise around 1,000 companies that employ around 320,000 people in Switzerland and export goods worth about CHF63 billion ($64 billion) annually.

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