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Swiss second quarter current account surplus halves to 9.88 billion Sfr

ZURICH (Reuters) - Switzerland’s current account surplus shrank to 9.88 billion Swiss francs ($10.86 billion) in the second quarter of 2020, the Swiss National Bank said on Monday, less than half the 20.6 billion franc figure for the same quarter of 2019.

“This decline was principally due to lower receipts from direct investment abroad. While the goods trade balance and the services trade balance changed only marginally, there was a significant decrease in receipts and expenses,” the central bank said.

Switzerland sold less goods and services abroad than in the previous quarter, but also imported less as the COVID-19 crisis plunged the country into its worst downturn in 40 years.

The overall downturn was cushioned by increasing exports and imports of non monetary gold.

Still, Switzerland’s goods and service balance narrowed to 16.35 billion francs in the second quarter, down from 19.67 billion francs in the January to March period.

Reserve assets acquired during the second quarter increased by nearly 23 billion francs from the first quarter to 57 billion francs, reflecting the SNB’s increasing activity in foreign exchange markets.

The central bank has been more aggressive this year buying foreign currencies to dampen demand for the Swiss franc which has attracted safe-haven demand from investors during the pandemic.

($1 = 0.9094 Swiss francs)

Reporting by John Revill; Editing by Michael Shields