A buoyant export sector helped the Swiss economy continue to expand by an annualised rate of 2.5 per cent in the first quarter of 2001, maintaining the strong pace seen in the last quarter of 2000.This content was published on June 7, 2001 - 11:32
Economists had expected gross domestic product (GDP) - the broadest measure of economic output -to grow by between 2.2 and 2.5 per cent, compared to 2.5 per cent growth in the previous quarter.
Despite coming in at the top end of economists' expectations the latest GDP data hasn't dampened hopes for a cut in Swiss interest rates, possibly as soon as next week.
"With these figures there is a good chance that the Swiss National Bank will consider a cut in interest rates," said Hanspeter Hausheer, senior economist at UBS Warburg.
The Swiss National Bank (SNB) said the latest GDP data showed growth was moving into line with the economy's longer term potential.
The Swiss government's economic advisory panel said it now expected GDP growth for 2001 to be two per cent, down from its forecast of 2.25 per cent, made in December.
The panel of leading economic experts made its revised forecast on "a more marked slowdown in momentum in the world economy".
It said that while private consumption was likely to continue to expand strongly, investments and exports were expected to slow by more than had been expected when it made its earlier forecast in December.
The SNB is due to unveil its interest rate policy on June 14. After a quarter point cut on March 22, the SNB is currently targeting the middle of a range of 2.75 to 3.75 per cent for its benchmark rate.
swissinfo with agencies
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