Swiss National Bank Leaves Rates Unchanged at 1.75% and Lowers Inflation Forecast

The Swiss National Bank kept its policy rate at 1.75% in its December meeting, it came after the Federal Reserve had signaled a pivot towards lowering rates in 2024 the day before. The SNB also lowered its inflation forecast for next year but warned that uncertainty was clouding the decision-making path ahead.

The decision follows Swiss annual inflation fell to 1.4% in November, down from 1.7% in October, driven by lower inflation on goods and tourism services, the bank said. The SNB has responded to more settling inflation. The bank last hiked by 25bps in June and leaves borrowing costs the highest since November 2008.

The SNB lowered its expectations for inflation under fresh forecasts. It now expects annual inflation to average 2.1% in 2023, 1.9% in 2024 and 1.6% in 2025, from 2.2% in 2023 and 2024 and 1.9% in 2025 under previous forecasts made in September.

Swiss National Bank

Monetary policy assessment of 14 December 2023
Swiss National Bank Holds on Monetary Policy

Highlights

  • Holds at 1.75%
  • Inflationary pressure has decreased slightly over the past quarter. However, uncertainty remains high
  • SNB said inflation is likely to tick up again in the coming months on higher electricity prices, rents and on a rise in sales tax.
  • SNB’s reduced emphasis on selling foreign currency compared with previous meetings, where it had said it will remain active in the foreign exchange market as necessary
Switzerland Interest Rate

Inflation Projections

  • Sees 2023 inflation at 2.1% (from 2.2%)
  • Sees 2024 inflation at 1.9% (from 2.2%)
  • Sees 2025 inflation at 1.6% (from 1.9%)

The SNB also said Switzerland’s economy is likely to grow by around 1% this year, and between 0.5% and 1% in 2024, but cautioned that the main risk is a more pronounced economic slowdown abroad.

Market Reaction

  • The Swiss Market Index (SMI) jumped by more than 1.5% on Thursday after the SNB interest rate decision. The index, which tracks the biggest Swiss companies, surged to a high of CHF 11,316, its highest point since July this year. It has soared by 10% from its lowest level in November.
  • In a knee-jerk reaction to the expected SNB pause decision, USD/CHF tumbled nearly 30 pips to 0.8678 before reversing sharply to 0.8730 to be up 0.18% on the day.

Remarks by SNB chief, Thomas Jordan

  • “Inflation is likely to rise in the coming months.”
  • “Swiss inflation forecasts remain within 0-2% target range into 2025.”
  • “We are no longer focusing on forex sales.”
  • “Assessment of upside and downside risks for inflation are currently balanced.”
  • “We will adjust monetary policy if necessary to keep within price stability goal.”
  • “Inflation forecasts within target range over the entire forecast horizon for first time in some time.”

Monetary policy assessment of 14 December 2023

Press Statement

Swiss National Bank leaves SNB policy rate unchanged at 1.75%

The Swiss National Bank is leaving the SNB policy rate unchanged at 1.75%. Banks’ sight
deposits held at the SNB are remunerated at the SNB policy rate up to a certain threshold, and
at 1.25% above this threshold. The SNB is also willing to be active in the foreign exchange
market as necessary.

Inflationary pressure has decreased slightly over the past quarter. However, uncertainty
remains high. The SNB will therefore continue to monitor the development of inflation
closely, and will adjust its monetary policy if necessary to ensure inflation remains within the
range consistent with price stability over the medium term.

Inflation stood at 1.4% in November, and was thus somewhat lower than in the previous
months. The slight decrease was above all attributable to lower inflation on goods and tourism
services. However, inflation is likely to increase again somewhat in the coming months due to
higher electricity prices and rents, as well as the rise in VAT.

The new conditional inflation forecast is below that of September. In the short term, this is
due to the recent lower-than-expected inflation. In the medium term, reduced inflationary
pressure from abroad and somewhat weaker second-round effects are resulting in a downward
revision. Over the entire forecast horizon, the inflation forecast is within the range of price
stability (cf. chart). The forecast puts average annual inflation at 2.1% for 2023, 1.9% for
2024 and 1.6% for 2025 (cf. table). The forecast is based on the assumption that the SNB
policy rate is 1.75% over the entire forecast horizon.

Global economic growth was stronger than expected in the third quarter of this year. Inflation
has declined significantly in most countries in recent months. Against this backdrop, many
central banks have refrained from further monetary policy tightening. With inflation still
above the respective targets, monetary policy is likely to remain restrictive in many countries
for the time being.

The growth outlook for the global economy in the coming quarters remains subdued.
Inflationary pressure is likely to continue to ease.

This scenario for the global economy is still subject to large risks. Inflation could remain
elevated for longer in some countries, necessitating a further tightening of monetary policy
there. Equally, the energy situation in Europe could deteriorate over the course of the winter,
and geopolitical tensions could increase. It therefore cannot be ruled out that global growth
momentum will weaken more significantly than assumed.

Swiss GDP growth was moderate in the third quarter of this year. The services sector
expanded again, while value added in manufacturing stagnated. Unemployment rose
somewhat, and the utilisation of overall production capacity was only slightly above average.

Growth is likely to be weak in the coming quarters. Subdued demand from abroad and the
tighter financing conditions are having a dampening effect. Overall, Switzerland’s GDP is
likely to grow by around 1% this year. For 2024, the SNB currently expects growth of
between 0.5% and 1%. In this environment, unemployment is likely to continue to rise
gradually, and the utilisation of production capacity should decline somewhat further.
The forecast for Switzerland, as for the global economy, is subject to high uncertainty. The
main risk is a more pronounced economic slowdown abroad.

Momentum on the mortgage and real estate markets has weakened noticeably in recent
quarters. However, the vulnerabilities in these markets remain.

Source: SNB

From The TradersCommunity News Desk