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UBS Outlook Switzerland Q1 2010 - UBS economists raise growth forecasts

Zurich / Basel Media Releases Switzerland

UBS economists expect economic acceleration in 2010 and have raised their growth forecast from 1.7% to 2.0%. The results of the quarterly survey of roughly 650 companies confirm this positive outlook.

The recession in Switzerland is over. Economic growth has returned. For 2010, UBS forecasts economic growth of 2.0%. Previously, UBS economists had forecast growth of 1.7%. Immigration will sustain consumption this year, but the expected rise in unemployment will have a negative impact on consumer spending. UBS economists expect equipment investments, net exports and construction investments to support growth. Immigration and record-low mortgage interest rates are fueling demand for housing. UBS published this updated forecast in its quarterly UBS Outlook Switzerland report.

Low levels of capacity utilization, high unemployment and the strong franc will keep inflationary pressure relatively low this year. UBS expects an average inflation rate of 0.6% for the year. UBS economists expect the SNB to start raising interest rates only in autumn, but to do so relatively quickly.

UBS economic indicator markedly improved
The UBS economic indicator supports the positive outlook for the economy. A barometer for the Swiss economy, the indicator improved from minus 0.6 in the third quarter to 0.9 in fourth quarter 2009 and then to 1.4 in first quarter 2010.

The Swiss industrial sector appears to be recovering after a difficult 2009. The machinery, electrical and metals industries, which were greatly affected by the crisis, are expecting unchanged or slightly higher sales year-on-year in first quarter 2010 – the first time in a while. According to the survey results, the chemicals industry already turned the corner in fourth quarter 2009. The watchmaking industry, however, is hoping to stabilize in the first quarter.

In the service sector, there was little improvement in the fourth quarter. Profits remained below the previous year's levels, layoffs continued at a slow pace, and sales declined more than expected in the third quarter – particularly in terms of exports. Survey participants expect activity to return to 2009 levels in first quarter 2010. However, the service sector was less affected by the crisis last year than the industrial sector.

In comparison, retailers and tourism companies were relatively pessimistic. Both sectors expect profits to decline further. The Swiss print and media industry also declined sharply late 2009. Prices fell faster than in the previous year and layoffs increased. The industry expects the situation to stabilize in first quarter 2010.

Caesar Lack, Economics & Swiss Research
Tel. +41 44 234 44 13

Carla Duss, Economics & Swiss Research
Tel. +41 44 234 21 19

UBS publications and forecasts for Switzerland:

UBS Business Cycle Indicator and gross domestic product
(Change yoy in %)

Data (in %):

The UBS economic indicator: a barometer of the Swiss economy since 1975
Since 1975, UBS has conducted quarterly surveys of companies operating in Switzerland concerning their business outlook. UBS economists have drawn upon this data to develop an economic indicator designed to provide reliable forecasting of the outlook for the Swiss economy. The following survey elements flow into the calculation of the economic indicator: change in total incoming orders versus the previous quarter, projected change in orders for the next quarter, change in domestic and international incoming orders, production, finished goods inventories, staffing levels and order backlog.