Swiss National Bank Holds Cash Rates Steady
The Swiss National Bank decided to leave the interest rates unchanged at -0.75 percent, highlighting that it is willing to intervene in the foreign exchange market if necessary and that expansionary monetary policy is still needed given the current inflation levels in Switzerland.
"Negative interest and the willingness to intervene counteract the attractiveness of Swiss franc investments and thus ease the upward pressure on the currency," explained the bank, "In this way, the SNB stabilises price developments and supports economic activity," it added.
Switzerland's inflation rate was at -0.1 percent (year-to-year) in November after being at -0.3 percent in October, mostly caused by dropping food, health and transport prices. Core inflation was at 0.4 percent, after being at 0.2 percent in October.
The bank's policymakers said that they expect the cash rates to remain at the same level at least until 2021, as they expect inflation levels will be at 0.4 percent this year, 0.1 percent in the next, and 0.5 percent in 2021.
They also highlighted the condition the international markets are in (mostly due to the trade tensions and a persistently weak manufacturing activity), stating that economic growth was below average in the third quarter as well as having a moderate inflation level, this made other central banks to hold an easing monetary policy stance.
"Moreover, they signalled [the central banks] that they would probably leave their policy rates at a low level for an extended period of time," it continued.
According to its estimations, Switzerland's Gross Domestic Product will be around 1 per cent this year, and between 1.5 and 2 per cent in 2020. Policymakers expect a better performance in 2020 since they foresee better global economic activity levels, given the celebration of next year's summer Olympic Games which are expected to take place in Tokyo.
Nevertheless, the situation in the Swiss mortgage and real state markets is concerning. Single-family homes, privately owned apartments and mortgage lending prices barely rose during the last quarter while residential investment property prices remain stagnant.
"The SNB will continue to monitor developments on the mortgage and real estate markets closely, and will regularly reassess the need for an adjustment of the countercyclical capital buffer," stated the bank.
By 10:51 GMT the US Dollar went down by 0.05 per cent against the Swiss Franc, at 0.9823. Conversely, the Euro remained almost steady against the Swiss franc, losing 0.01 per cent and falling to the 1.0936 level.