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Swiss central bank should curb franc's rise: Swatch chief

AFP · 1 Aug 2011, 16:28

Published: 01 Aug 2011 17:15 GMT+02:00
Updated: 01 Aug 2011 16:28 GMT+02:00

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The head of watchmaker Swatch on Sunday urged Switzerland's central bank to take measures to curb the appreciation of the Swiss franc, now at record heights against the euro and dollar.

"We must defend ourselves," Swatch's Director General Nick Hayek told the Sonntagszeitung newspaper in an interview published Sunday.

The National Bank of Switzerland (BNS) "must set an objective rate for the franc, for example a 1.35 (euro, $2.00) and defend it. This would at least be a clear signal" to the markets," Hayek added.

He rejected claims that franc's current record-high standing against the euro and dollar are due to the strength of the Swiss economy, which has attracted investors looking for a "safe haven" amid an intensifying eurozone debt crisis.

Rather, he said, the high rates are "a consequence of speculation."

While Swatch on Thursday announced a net 24.5 percent rise in profits, Hayek said that trend would not last if the franc continued to soar.

"If the franc remains at these high levels high against the dollar and the euro, it will not be easy to maintain our profitability at current levels," Hayek said.

The continued rise of the franc "will not only have very, very heavy consequences for us, but for all Swiss businesses and for tourism," he said.

The franc hit record highs this weekend, brought on by the debt crises in Europe and the US, where lawmakers are working through the weekend to forge a compromise on raising the country's borrowing limit.

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On Friday evening, Swiss currency was trading at 1.1313 francs per euro, and 0.7852 against the dollar.

The BNS central bank had until 2010 intervened in exchange markets to limit the rise of the franc, but has since aborted that strategy after suffering major losses.

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