OREANDA-NEWS. The downturn in Switzerland's manufacturing sector worsened in February, a monthly survey showed on Monday, although a more stable Swiss franc helped slow the pace of decline after January's sharp fall.

The Swiss purchasing managers' index, which gives a snapshot of the health of the manufacturing sector, fell to a seasonally adjusted 47.3 points in February from 48.2 points in the previous month, data showed on Monday. That is below the 50 mark that indicates growth.

The sub indicator for production fell for the first time since October 2012, while order books thinned for the second month in a row.

The index, compiled by the Swiss SVME purchasing managers' association and Credit Suisse, had plunged more than 5 points in January, when the Swiss central bank removed a more than three-year-old cap on the Swiss franc versus the euro.

That sent the currency soaring, prompting firms across Switzerland to warn of a plunge in profits and announce cuts in spending and jobs.

The franc has since pared some of those gains, but it is still more than 10 percent higher from the day before the cap was removed.

Last week, Switzerland's leading monthly economic indicator posted its biggest fall since 2011 as the strong franc hit business sentiment and order books.

The PMI sub indices for employment and inventories both fell, reflecting cuts in working hours and redundancies at Swiss companies since the SNB dropped the cap.