April 18, 2013 / 10:21 AM / 7 years ago

UPDATE 1-Rise in Swiss franc would hurt economy -SNB's Zurbruegg

* SNB policymaker defends 1.20 franc cap again (Adds details)

BASEL, April 18 (Reuters) - The Swiss National Bank still sees the franc as overvalued and fears any rise could hurt the economy, a member of its board said on Thursday, confirming the bank’s commitment to defend the currency’s 1.20 per euro cap.

SNB board member Fritz Zurbruegg made the comments at a conference organised by economic think-tank BAKBasel. They echoed a warning by the SNB in its quarterly policy statement last month that the euro zone crisis could still boost the safe-haven franc.

Zurbruegg said the main risk to future global growth prospects was that citizens in the euro zone could start to lose patience with structural reforms: “That would be the worst of all outcomes.”

The SNB capped the soaring franc in September 2011 to help stave off recession and the threat of deflation, and was forced to intervene heavily last year as the euro zone crisis flared, swelling its foreign currency reserves.

March data showed the SNB’s foreign exchange reserves rising to 438.3 billion Swiss francs ($470.68 billion) as worries about the Cyprus crisis pushed the Swiss currency up.

Two thirds of financial analysts expect the franc to remain stable against the euro over the next year, while nearly half expect it to weaken against the dollar, the ZEW investor sentiment survey showed on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, SNB Vice Chairman Jean-Pierre Danthine warned that Switzerland faces a challenge as it tries to halt a lending boom fuelled by low rates designed to keep a lid on the franc that could easily turn to a crash. ($1 = 0.9312 Swiss francs) (Reporting by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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