A week after the SNB kept rates unchanged, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs in Bern has issued economic forecasts for Switzerland. The GDP growth in 2018 is expected to reach 1.9% y/y (currently at 0.9%). In the same time, the SECO is forecasting exports to reach 3.7% (currently below 3%). Imports are also expected to take a jump to 3.8%. Consumer prices forecasts are the one weak point and the SECO sees consumer prices declining by 0.3% a year from now.
The strong franc has not prevented the SECO from showing its optimism on the Swiss economy. We tend to believe that current levels are still sustainable for the Helvetic country. In the same time, FX reserves are reaching almost CHF 700 billion which shows the massive effort to stabilise the CHF. We do not believe that the central bank will diminish its intervention and the balance sheet is set to stay very large.
Upside pressures on the CHF will likely continue. The currency is very dependent on the ECB monetary policy. In the medium-term, markets seem to expect the ECB to provide some hints about a further tightening path, which would provide some relief to the currency. For the time being, we remain long CHF.
By Yann Quelenn