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Swiss economy to hit bottom in the first quarter

Researchers at the ETH have said the Swiss economy will not officially go into recession

Economic researchers at the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich have forecast that the Swiss economy will hit the bottom of the trough in the first quarter of the year.

At a news conference in Zurich, economists from the ETH’s Business Cycle Research Institute said this should allow Switzerland to escape officially entering recession.

“Switzerland will not enter into recession,” the Institute’s head, Bernd Schips said.

“The classic definition of recession is two consecutive quarters of negative year-on-year growth and that we will not have,” Ships said, adding that Switzerland would have one such quarter of negative growth either in the fourth quarter of 2001 or the first of 2002.

Companies less pessimistic

In its quarterly industrial survey published on Thursday, the Institute noted that companies were less pessimistic than in the October survey, which came in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.

This was underscored by a quarterly consumer sentiment survey published by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs on Thursday which showed that the index improved to minus 11 points in January from minus 17 points in October.

However, the Institute has said it will nevertheless reduce its own growth forecasts when it publishes new figures in April.

In October, it had forecast a GDP growth of 1.9 per cent for 2001, falling to 1.1 per cent in 2002.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR