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UBS consumption indicator: upward trend ends in April

Zurich/Basel Media Switzerland

The UBS consumption indicator fell slightly in April from 1.34 to 1.25 points, bringing an end to the upward trend that had lasted since January. Although the indicator remains above February's figure, its current level is relatively modest.

Zurich/Basel, 27 May 2015 – Retailers' assessment of the business situation was again clearly pessimistic and remained stuck at -13 points. This prompts concerns that we may have to prepare ourselves for a prolonged period of negativity in the retail sector, similarly to what was last seen when the Swiss franc appreciated at the end of 2011.

Above all, the 5% (seasonally adjusted) drop in the number of new car registrations compared to March is exerting downward pressure on the index. But demand for new cars was still strong, and in April it again had a supportive effect; growth compared to the previous year stood at +4%, which is significantly higher than the long-term average.

The Consumer Sentiment Index published by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs was unchanged at -6 points in April. The four most important sub-indicators (growth expectations, unemployment figures, household finances and households' chances of accumulating savings), which together determine the index level, did not change significantly. However, economic growth in the last 12 months, rising prices and job security in Switzerland were judged much more pessimistically than in January. This observation matches the analysis of the KOF (Swiss Economic Institute), whose employment indicator fell in the second quarter 2015 to its lowest level since the end of 2009.

Sources: Seco, UBS

How the UBS Consumption Indicator is calculated
The UBS Consumption Indicator signals private consumption trends in Switzerland with a lead time of about three months on the official figures. At roughly 60%, private consumption is by far the most important component of Swiss GDP. UBS calculates this leading indicator from five consumer-related parameters: new car registrations, business activity in the retail sector, the number of domestic overnight hotel stays by Swiss residents, the consumer sentiment index, and credit card transactions made via UBS at points of sale in Switzerland. With the exception of the consumer sentiment index, all of this data is available monthly.


Media contact

Sibille Duss, UBS Chief Investment Office WM
Phone +41-44-235 69 54,

Dominik Studer, UBS Chief Investment Office WM
Phone +41-44-234 81 74,

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