April 30, 2020 / 7:27 AM / a month ago

Swiss leading indicator shows historic drop in trampled economy

ZURICH, April 30 (Reuters) - Switzerland’s leading indicator posted a record-setting drop in April as the coronavirus pandemic ravaged the export-led economy.

The KOF Economic Barometer plunged 28.2 points to 63.5 points, a drop twice as large as ever seen before, to reach depths last seen in early 2009 during the financial crisis.

“The Swiss economy is in crisis mode,” the KOF think tank said.

Manufacturing and other services led the rout, but indicators for accommodation and food services, foreign demand, construction, consumption and financial and insurance service providers were also deeply in the red.

Swiss retail sales also declined by 5.6% in calendar-adjusted real terms in March versus the same month a year ago, the Federal Statistics Office said. Sales were down 6.2% from February, when adjusted for seasonal effects.

Sales of food, beverages and tobacco jumped a real 8.4%, while non-food sales plunged 15% year-on-year as the government urged people from mid-March to stay home to help curb spread of the new coronavirus, which has killed more than 1,400 people and sickened nearly 30,000 in Switzerland.

The government is gradually relaxing curbs on public life but still urging people to keep their distance from one another and use rigorous hygiene to stay safe.

The government has forecast the pandemic will cause the worst downturn in 45 years, with the economy set to shrink 6.7% this year. (Reporting by Michael Shields, editing by Larry King)

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