First Major Bank Cuts Interest Rates

Recently, the Swiss National Bank (SNB) unexpectedly cut its main policy rate by 0.25 percentage points to 1.5%, citing projections that national inflation will likely remain under 2% in the coming years.

Contrary to expectations from economists surveyed by Reuters, who anticipated the bank would maintain rates at 1.75%, the SNB’s decision came as a surprise. The bank explained, “Inflation has been below 2% for some months now, aligning with what the SNB considers price stability. Our new forecast suggests inflation will continue to stay within this range for the foreseeable future.” In February, Swiss inflation further declined to 1.2%.

Additionally, the SNB has revised its inflation forecasts downwards. It now expects inflation to average 1.4% in 2024, a decrease from the previously estimated 1.9% in December, and to adjust the 2025 forecast to 1.2% from 1.6%. For 2026, the bank’s initial prediction is an average inflation rate of 1.1%.

Following this announcement, Capital Economics analysts predict that the SNB will implement two additional rate cuts this year, noting the bank’s dovish stance and the likelihood of inflation falling short of its forecasts. “We anticipate inflation to settle even below the SNB’s revised projections, maintaining around the current rate of 1.2% before dropping below 1.0% next year. Consequently, we expect rate cuts in the September and December meetings, bringing the policy rate down to 1%, where it is likely to stay through 2025 and 2026,” according to a note from Capital Economics.

The upcoming September meeting is expected to be the final one overseen by SNB Chairman Thomas Jordan, who will retire at the end of the month after a 12-year tenure.

The SNB also provided an outlook on the Swiss economy, predicting “modest” growth in the upcoming quarters and anticipating a GDP increase of about 1% this year.

At the global level, the bank anticipates “moderate” economic growth in the next quarters, with inflation likely to decrease due in part to tight monetary policies.

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