Switzerland's leading economic indicator predicts a further weakening in domestic growth in the first six months of 2002.
The Swiss Institute for Business Cycle Research revealed on Wednesday that its leading indicator fell to minus 1.37 in December from minus 1.24 in November.
But the institute, whose economic barometer calculates trends up to six to nine months ahead, also noted that the economic downturn appeared to be slowing.
"The further decline in the economic barometer shows the poor performance of Switzerland's industry," explained the institute. "But, taking into account the current indicator levels from the monthly industry survey, the barometer shows a slowdown in the rate of decline."
Private and public sector analysts are generally agreed that growth in Switzerland will slow in 2002 to something closer to one per cent, down from last year's estimated 1.5 per cent expansion rate
The Swiss National Bank sees growth of around one per cent this year but is keeping its options open over its next interest rate move.
The institute gave no gross domestic product forecasts but said it was expecting the rate of decline to slow.
"We see in the data that the decline is slowing," said Daniel Bloesch, an economist at the institute. "But there is still a decline in the barometer, a signal for a slowdown."
The institute's barometer does not project an actual level of economic growth, but rather gives a signal to whether the economy is expanding or contracting.
swissinfo with agencies
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