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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

De Beers Reports 28% Sales Decline

LONDON -- Diamond group De Beers' sales of uncut stones slumped this year to their lowest level since 1987, the company said Monday, blaming the poor performance on plunging demand in Japan and East Asia

De Beers' Central Selling Organization reported a 28 percent drop in sales to $3.34 billion, underlining an industry malaise which analysts believe may force De Beers to slash its 1998 dividend.

The London-based CSO, which supplies 70 percent of the world's rough diamonds, reported sales of $1.64 billion in the second half of 1998, down 3 percent from the first-half total of $1.7 billion.

"Good levels of retail sales of diamond jewelry in the United States and to a lesser extent in Europe have been insufficient to compensate for lower sales in Japan and East Asia," De Beers said in a statement.

Retail demand in Japan, the second largest market, was some 20 percent below 1997 in dollar terms while polished-stone imports into Hong Kong were down around 40 percent.