U.S. Markets

Swatch Group seeing strong demand so far in 2017: CEO

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BIEL, Switzerland (Reuters) - Swatch Group UHR.S has seen strong demand for its watches since the beginning of the year, the world's biggest watchmaker's chief executive said on Thursday.

“The first two and a half months of 2017 showed strong growth, particularly in Asia,” Nick Hayek told a news conference to present the company’s full-year results, already released in February.

Swiss watchmakers are grappling with declining sales in their biggest markets -- Hong Kong and the United States -- and tourist shoppers avoiding Europe for fear of extremist attacks, but recently watch shipments to mainland China turned the corner.

The company’s finance chief said Swatch Group had chosen to do a share buyback last year to avoid negative interest on its cash position.

Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz; Editing by Michael Shields