Swiss GDP contracts higher-than-expected 2.6% in Q1

ZURICH, June 3 (Reuters) - The Swiss economy contracted 2.6% in the first quarter compared with the last three months of 2019 as the novel coronavirus pandemic slammed the brakes on output and slowed exports, data showed on Wednesday.

Gross domestic product fell 1.3% year-on-year, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) said. Economists had expected GDP to shrink 2.0% quarter on quarter and 0.9% year-on-year.

The decline followed real growth of 0.3% in the fourth quarter as exports lost momentum and industry struggled.

Business closures and restrictions hit the service sector hard in the first quarter. “Historic declines were seen in trade (-4.4%) and accommodation and food services (-23.4%), which had been struggling with falling numbers of foreign guests since back in early March,” SECO said. (Reporting by Michael Shields; editing by Thomas Seythal)