A pedestrian walks past an advertisement for Rolex watches China.
PARIS — Exports of Swiss watches grew 3.6 percent in July, spurred by growth in Hong Kong and China and adding to mounting evidence of the sector’s improvement, the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry said Tuesday.“Recovery of the year-over-year trend therefore continued, steadily approaching the forecast stabilization,” said the federation, noting the third month in a row of growth.Sales of Swiss timepieces reached 1.7 billion Swiss francs, or $1.76 billion, over the period, with continued growth in sales of watches in China and Hong Kong.The federation said growth in China, up 22.3 percent, continued its strong trajectory.Exports to Hong Kong, the industry’s most important market, posted an increase of 16.8 percent, a further sign of recovery in the medium-term, according to the federation.Swiss watch exports, seen as a barometer for the luxury goods industry, are being closely eyed for clues about the sector’s health. A nearly 10 percent slide in exports last year left the industry struggling to regain its footing, and the federation last month tentatively declared a stabilization of the overall trend.Watch exports to the U.S. rose 1.4 percent, ending a two-year spell of declines. The federation characterized the improvement as a slight correction.Italy, down 14.3 percent after two strong months, and France, down 1.7 percent, weighed on the performance while Germany led the three with brisk exports, up over 13.4 percent.The U.K., however, saw its first fall of the year, down 8.5 percent.In an analyst note Tuesday, Barclays pointed to the strength of the euro as a likely factor of the slowing numbers in the region.Barclays analysts noted the July figures came against “very easy” comparable numbers, citing a 14.1 percent monthly decline the previous year. With the exception of October, comparable figures will “get more difficult from this point,” said Barclays.Growth in exports was driven by watches made of steel and precious metals, up 5.2 percent and 8.9 percent respectively.The total value of exports of the least expensive models, priced at less than 200 Swiss francs, reversed a several-month trend of growth, with a substantial 18.2 percent drop over the month.
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