* Exports down 4.2 pct
* EU is biggest trading partner, trade with EU falls
ZURICH Feb 5 Swiss exports fell in December,
data showed on Tuesday, dragged down by weak demand from the
country's top trading partner Europe.
Exports adjusted for the number of working days fell by 4.2
percent to 14.049 billion Swiss francs ($15.46 billion), the
Federal Customs Office said on Tuesday.
Unadjusted sales of goods to Europe - Switzerland's biggest
trading partner - dropped 10.2 percent, while sales to Asia fell
Exporters have benefited from the Swiss National Bank's cap
of 1.20 francs per euro in place since September 2011, but they
have also faced headwinds from weak demand in the neighbouring
euro zone as the region's debt crisis hit confidence and output.
Despite the drop in exports in December, a raft of other
data has suggested the Swiss economy may have emerged from a
trough since the start of the year.
Swiss manufacturing activity expanded for the first time in
17 months in January, while investor sentiment showed a further
improvement last month.
Rising confidence that the euro zone will shake off its
sovereign debt crisis also saw the franc weaken in January,
providing some cheer for exporters who have long complained the
cap was set too high, eroding their margins.
The franc is some 30 percent stronger than it was before the
financial crisis erupted in 2008 and Switzerland's finance
minister has said it remains overvalued.
Overall, Switzerland ran a merchandise trade surplus
of 1 billion Swiss francs in December.
($1 = 0.9086 Swiss francs)
(Reporting by Caroline Copley: Editing by John Stonestreet)