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No major changes to UBS forecasts needed
The growth figures published in recent weeks for the fourth quarter of 2001 show that Switzerland has only narrowly escaped recession. After reviewing their earlier forecasts, UBS economists have decided to leave their estimate for Swiss economic growth in 2002 at the 1% announced in September 2001.
The 2003 growth forecast also remains unchanged at 1.8%, which would bring Switzerland back towards its trend growth path next year. UBS economists see no need to revise their inflation forecasts. Consumer price increases will continue to be modest both this year and next, with inflation rates of 0.7% and 1.2% respectively.
There are now clear signs of economic improvement in the US and Europe. In Switzerland, too, the indicators are signalling that the economy has bottomed out. However, the UBS forecast does not envisage a noticeable improvement until the second half of this year. In view of this fact, the Swiss National Bank (SNB) is expected to make no change in interest rates. With growth still tentative and inflation set to remain modest for the time being, we are likely to see a fairly long period of stable rates. The UBS experts do not believe the SNB will change its monetary policy stance until December at the earliest. The Swiss franc, meanwhile, is likely to ease down towards 1.50 versus the euro over the next 12 months.
Zurich / Basel, 15 March 2002