Swiss exports hit a new high in October, rising by 10.5 per cent to SFr18.75 billion ($16.8 billion), the Federal Customs Office reported on Tuesday.
With imports for the month at SFr17.2 million, Switzerland ran a trade surplus of SFr1.56 billion, slightly narrower than the September surplus.
The Swiss watch industry has also reported a "sharp upturn" in the number of watches and movements exported for the month, valued at SFr1.69 billion. It expects a record for the year as a whole.
Economists surveyed by Reuters had expected a trade surplus of between SFr1.4 billion and SFr1.8 billion, with the average of five economists at SFr1.5 billion.
The Federal Customs Office said that when adjusted for working days, the export growth rate fell to 5.8 per cent, less dynamic than up to now this year.
Analyst Fabian Heller at Credit Suisse (CS) said the October figure was still above what he had expected.
"Exports have benefited from very strong demand... Despite current uncertainties demand from abroad is staying on a high level. We are not seeing any signs of a slowdown," he commented.
Heller added that CS remained "very positive" on trade, which was supporting economic growth in 2007 and slowing to a more moderate extent in 2008.
"The luxury sector is performing strongly as are food products, machinery, electronic goods and precision goods. Watches are very good."
In a related development, the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry said on Tuesday that the October monthly export result "exceeded by far the best months achieved previously by Swiss watch manufacturers".
The federation's president, Jean-Daniel Pasche, confirmed that the branch was confident for both this year and next, expecting exports topping the SFr14 billion mark in 2007 – a record.
Over the first ten months of the year, the value stands at SFr12.7 billion, an increase of 16.3 per cent over the comparable period last year.
"We are certain that 2008 will be even better," he said.
Pasche added there was no end in sight to trends favouring luxury goods like jewellery and handcrafted timepieces.
The global environment seems to be even better [than 2007]," he told Reuters.
In a statement, the federation noted that steel watches had been an "important catalyst of October growth in value terms. Gold timepieces had also supported the trend but to a lesser extent.
swissinfo with agencies
October Trade Figures
Imports: SFr17.192 billion
Exports: SFr18.750 billion
Balance: SFr1.56 billion
October Watchmaking Exports
United States: SFr261 million (+1.4%)
Hong Kong: 250.1 million (+15%)
Japan: SFr123.4 million (-10.2%)
Italy: SFr114.5 million ((+6.5%)
France: SFr106.5 million (+16.2%)
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