Most Swiss firms not hit by strong franc-SNB survey

* Over 50 pct of firms saw no noticeable effect of strong Sfr

* Nearly 20 pct saw positive effect due to strong Sfr

* Just over 25 pct experienced negative effect

ZURICH, Sept 24 (Reuters) - The strength of the Swiss franc has hurt only a minority of Swiss companies, according to a survey published by the Alpine state’s central bank in its quarterly bulletin on Friday.

The quarterly report prepared before the Swiss National Bank’s interest rate decision last week echoed the central bank’s latest assessment of the economy.

The SNB kept rates ultra-low on Sept 16 and forecast a marked slowdown of the economy next year due to the strong franc and a weaker global economy. [ID:nLDE68D1IK]

The survey of businesses was conducted in July and August, when the franc was trading between 1.39 and 1.30 per euro. The franc has gained over 10 percent since the beginning of the year.

“When asked specifically about the impact of the appreciation of the Swiss franc on their business, more than half of the companies said they had not experienced any noticeable effects overall,” the SNB said in its quarterly bulletin.

The SNB said nearly a fifth of the companies reported positive effects while slightly more than a quarter experienced mildly or strongly negative effects.

Manufacturers were suffering more than other sectors, with the franc hitting profit margins and to some degree sales.

The euro zone is Switzerland’s biggest trading partner, and industry groups have warned that the franc’s rise against the euro could hurt profits or force companies to move production outside Switzerland.

After the survey was completed, the franc touched a record high of 1.2763 per euro on Sept. 8, though it dropped to around 1.32 after the SNB's sceptical outlook.EURCHF=

During the financial crisis the SNB sold francs for euros to stave off the risk of deflation but it dropped its intervention pleged in June, saying deflation risks had dissipated.

Reporting by Catherine Bosley; Editing by Toby Chopra