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Swiss exports fall

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Swiss exports fell 0.8 percent in January in real terms from the previous year. Export sales of chemicals and pharmaceuticals were hit hard, the Federal Customs Office said on Thursday.

The surge in the Swiss franc since the country scrapped the currency’s cap in mid-January may also have played a role in the fall in exports. The Swiss National Bank removed its 1.20 francs per euro cap on Jan. 15, a measure that had helped protect exporters from a strong franc.

This move sent the currency, seen as a safe haven during times of global economic stress, soaring against the euro and has led some economists to predict the Swiss economy will contract this year. This was the second consecutive month that exports fell in real terms when taking account of a different number of working days.

In nominal terms, exports rose 1.2 percent in January,to 16.404 billion francs (11.2 billion pounds). Exports of chemicals and pharmaceuticals, the country’s biggest exports fell 5.9 percent in nominal terms. Machinery exports dropped 8.4 percent, while watches ticked up by 3.7 percent.