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Swiss National Bank to hold rate at record low for years: Reuters poll By Reuters


© Reuters. FILEPHOTO: A photograph of the logo for Swiss National Bank (SNB), can be seen on its Bern building, Switzerland. This was June 17, 2021. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

ZURICH (Reuters) – The Swiss National Bank is set to look past a mild near-term rise in inflation at home as well as a slightly weaker franc and stick firmly to its ultra-expansive monetary policy on Thursday, according to a Reuters poll of economists.

The Sept 14-20 survey showed that 36 of the economists polled expect the Swiss central banking to maintain its current policy rate at minus 0.75 percent – which is the lowest worldwide – as it updates its data.

The forecast period, which is the first quarter 2023, does not include any rate changes by the SNB. This is due to the European Central Bank’s prudent approach, leaving little for the Swiss to adjust.

This month, the ECB announced that it will reduce its emergency bond purchases. However, this was followed by a slight weakening of the franc in relation to the euro.

The earliest change in SNB policy is not expected to come before 2024, and Capital Economics’ analyst David Oxley said it could be even longer:

“The SNB is unlikely to move before the European Central Bank and, while it’s hard to judge, we don’t have any rate hikes pencilled in the euro area until 2026.”

Economists also expect that the SNB’s interest rate for sight deposits (the tool it uses to control its policy rate) will remain at minus 0.75%.

According to analysts polled, the SNB Chairman Thomas Jordan’s possible absence due to illness will not affect the wildly expansive policy that has been followed by the bank for six years.

Jordan is currently being treated for heart disease. In his absence, deliberations are to be headed by Fritz Zurbruegg Vice Chairman. He has stressed recently the importance of having negative rates in order to stop the safe-haven Franc from soaring in value.

Most analysts believe that rising inflation rates within the eurozone as well as in Switzerland will be accepted by the SNB. But, this is unlikely to make a significant difference.

According to the poll, Swiss inflation will average 0.5% in 2018 and 0.6% by 2022. This is well below its target of 2%.

According to the median forecast, the Swiss economy will continue to recover from its pandemic. The average estimate predicts that GDP will rise by 3.5% and then 3% in 2021, respectively.

GianLuigi Mendruzzato from EFG Bank stated that “the SNB continues to be in an unpleasant position”: Inflation remains too high and the Franc is high, despite years with record-low negative interest rates.

“Despite having more options than the SNB, it is still seen that the SNB will continue to follow its path at the next policy meeting, even though foreign reserves are exceeding 130% of the GDP.

(For other stories from the Reuters global economic poll, see)

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