* May PMI surges to 66.4 points, strongest ever
* Q1 GDP up 0.4 pct q/q, 2.2 pct y/y
* Exports, private consumption support growth
By Catherine Bosley
ZURICH, June 1 (Reuters) – The Swiss economy posted its
third successive quarter of growth between January and March,
and a Swiss manufacturing survey hit its highest level ever in
May, highlighting the strength of the recovery.
Gross domestic product expanded 0.4 percent from the fourth
quarter of 2009, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs
(SECO) said, less than the 0.6 rise economists had forecast.
Meanwhile, Switzerland’s manufacturing sector gained further
momentum, data showed, with the Purchasing Manager’s Index
rising to a seasonally-adjusted 66.4 points in May from 65.9 in
April, ahead of expectations. [ID:nZAT010874]
“The broader-based nature of growth in Switzerland,
particularly the continued resilience of consumption and ongoing
strength of net trade, augur well for the coming quarters and
points to superior fundamentals than elsewhere in Europe,” BNP
Paribas economist Eoin O’Callaghan said.
Fourth-quarter GDP was revised to 0.9 percent growth
quarter-on-quarter, from 0.7 percent. ECONCH
Julius Baer economist Janwillem Acket said exports had not
yet seen the effect of a stronger currency, though it could have
an impact later this year.
The franc, regarded as a safe haven, hit a record high just
below 1.40 per euro on May 19. EURCHF=
“I don’t expect a double dip, but I do think the effect of
the stronger franc and also of the weaker economic situation in
the euro zone will only appear in coming quarters, in part
because of delivery times,” Acket said. “For exports we can’t
see it yet.”
The Swiss National Bank has been fighting a rally in the
franc since it began attracting investors during the credit
crisis, and worries about sovereign debt in the euro zone have
intensified this trend.
The SNB announces its next interest rate decision on June
17. Given the strong franc and the robust Swiss recovery
combined with euro zone concerns, Acket said the central bank
would likely take a wait-and-see approach in June.
“As long as the franc remains at the same strong levels
versus the euro we’ve recently seen, I imagine the SNB will try
and act pragmatically via interventions. I don’t expect a signal
on rates in the near future,” he said.
(Additional reporting by Jason Rhodes, Martin de Sa Pinto;
Editing by Ron Askew)