May 27, 2011 / 11:33 AM / in 8 years

Strong KOF barometer sends Swiss franc to new high

 * KOF economic barometer unchanged at 2.30 in May
 * Swiss economy still robust despite strong franc
 * Franc surges to new high against euro
 ZURICH, May 27 (Reuters) - The Swiss economy showed no sign
of cooling in May despite a record high Swiss franc, which
failed to take the edge off export activity, a leading growth
indicator showed on Friday.
 The KOF economic barometer was unchanged at 2.30 in May, the
KOF Swiss Economic Institute said in a statement. Economists had
expected it to fall to 2.20. ECONCH
 All sub-components of the indicator were in positive
territory, pointing towards strong gross domestic product growth
over the next few months, the KOF said. Swiss GDP data is due
next Tuesday.
 April's KOF reading was revised up from an initially
reported 2.29.
 "A KOF above 2.0 still indicates that the stronger Swiss
franc has been perceived in the surveys as a counterweight to
higher energy prices and not only as a damper on exporting
power," ING's Julien Manceaux said.
 "We expect the Swiss National Bank (SNB) to keep an eye on
the ...franc, which has been tightening monetary conditions
better than an interest rate hike would have done and has been
limiting imported inflation." 
 The SNB faces a dilemma as solid Swiss fundamentals plead in
favour of a rate hike, but the strong franc is keeping a lid on
inflation and weighing on the margins of Switzerland's export
 Exports rose 11.6 percent in April from a year earlier, data
showed on Thursday, but the price of goods fell, indicating that
exporters were seeing their margins squeezed.
 "We do not expect any new exchange rate interventions but a
persistently strong Swiss franc may well delay the first
interest rate hike towards the end of the year rather than in
September," Manceaux said.
 Concerns about euro zone debt and robust Swiss fundamentals
have underpinned the safe-haven franc, which rose to a fresh
record against the euro of 1.2167 francs after the KOF data
 Earlier in the session, the franc also hit a record high
against the dollar.
 The Swiss National Bank expects growth to slow to around 2.0
percent this year after 2.6 percent in 2010.
 For a story on Swiss economy click on [LEN-RTRS-MCE-CH]
 For recent Swiss National Bank comments [ID:nSNBQUOTES]
 (Reporting by Caroline Copley and Silke Koltrowitz; Editing
by John Stonestreet)

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