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Jobless figures climb steeply

The unemployment rate rose sharply in November, climbing to 2.7 per cent from 2.5 per cent in October, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs reported on Tuesday.

The number of registered unemployed rose by 7,181 to 107,652 - the first annual rise in four years - indicating that the financial crisis is starting to bite.

In a statement, Seco said the number of vacancies dropped by more than 13 per cent compared with November 2007 to 11,927.

"The financial crisis reached the Swiss employment market in November," said Serge Gaillard, head of Seco's labour division.

Market analyst Fabian Heller at Switzerland's second-largest bank Credit Suisse said that there were signs of a weakening market.

"The labour market is reacting to the downturn with the usual time lag. But the risks for next year for the labour market have clearly risen," he said.

A series of companies from all sectors have announced job cuts over the past few weeks.

Tuesday's news added to speculation that the Swiss National Bank would further cut its key interest rate when it holds its quarterly meeting on Thursday.

The SNB has reduced its target for the Swiss franc London Interbank Offered Rate by 175 basis points to one per cent in three surprise cuts since October 8, easing borrowing costs at an unprecedented rate to try to mitigate the consequences of the global economic slump.

Consumer price inflation fell to 1.5 per cent in November, coming below the SNB's threshold for price stability of two per cent for the first time this year.


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