Switzerland's service sector rebounds from coronavirus shutdown: PMI

ZURICH (Reuters) - Switzerland’s service sector is limping back to health after the coronavirus shutdown, a survey showed on Wednesday, although businesses remain cautious about the road ahead.

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“We’ve been injured, but we are optimistic we will get through this,” said Aaron Langolf, the owner of La Taqueria, a Mexican restaurant in Zurich.

“After the lockdown lifted, people were a bit cautious about coming out at first, but since reopening we have been full every night,” he said. “Going to a restaurant is a social thing.... people have missed meeting their friends.”

His experience mirrored data from the latest Purchasing Managers Index, which showed the service sector making a tentative recovery after the clampdown on public life, although Switzerland’s industry is still struggling.

The Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for the manufacturing sector fell to a seasonally adjusted 41.9 in June, down 0.2 points from May and 6.7 points lower year on year. That lagged expectations of 48.3 in a Refinitiv poll of economists. [S8N2DF017]

But the services sector index component rose to 49.1 points, up nearly 13 points from May while still down 4.6 points year on year.

The data showed “the services sector has almost recovered from its slump during the lockdown, with business activity and the number of new orders actually rising again”, Claude Maurer, head of Swiss macro analysis & strategy at Credit Suisse, which co-publishes the Swiss PMI Index, said in a statement.

The PMI for the manufacturing sector was recovering

more slowly, but the decline in production had at least slowed down and suppliers’ delivery times were normalising.

Still, despite the improvement, La Taqueria’s Langolf remained cautious, with his restaurant having to reduce capacity to meet distancing regulations.

“We have been fortunate because we’ve been in business for seven years and we have a strong customer base,” he said.

“We are not 100% relaxed yet,” he added, pointing to the risk of a second wave of infections or another lockdown.

Reporting by John Revill; editing by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi