March 20, 2014 / 8:15 AM / 4 years ago

Chemicals, pharmaceuticals lift Swiss exports in February

* Trade surplus of 2.6 bln Swiss francs in Feb

* Exports rise a real 8.0 pct

* Sales to China up 55.5 pct

ZURICH, March 20 (Reuters) - Swiss exports jumped in February, powered by robust demand for chemicals and pharmaceuticals, the country’s largest export sector, and the strongest growth in exports to China in three years, trade data showed on Thursday.

Exports from Switzerland rose by a real 8.0 percent in February to 17.019 billion Swiss francs ($19.45 billion), while imports rose 3.0 percent to 14.403 billion, the Federal Customs Office said.

The increase in exports adds to a run of positive data, pointing to an upturn in the Swiss economy after weaker than expected fourth quarter growth.

Exports grew in seven of the 10 most important sectors. Sales of pharmaceuticals and chemicals were up by a real 20.7 percent, while sales of watches rose 2.9 percent.

Sales to Europe - the country’s biggest trading partner - rose by 8.6 percent, while exports to China posted their strongest growth in three years, rising 55.5 percent, the customs office said.

Overall, Switzerland ran a merchandise trade surplus of 2.6 billion Swiss francs.

$1 = 0.8749 Swiss Francs Reporting by Alice Baghdjian; Editing by Toby Chopra

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