Switzerland raises 2012 growth forecast

The Swiss government on Thursday revised its 2012 growth forecast slightly higher to 0.8 percent, while pointing to signs of improvement in the eurozone debt crisis.

The government’s previous estimate was 0.5 percent, the economic affairs department (Seco) said in a statement.

Department experts noted that the Swiss economy had slowed sharply late last year, but said: “Since the beginning of 2012, the euro area debt crisis has eased slightly and business surveys conducted in Switzerland have shown the first signs of stabilisation.”

The 2013 growth forecast was nonetheless lowered to 1.8 percent from the previous estimation of 1.9 percent.

Seco also attributed the improved outlook this year to “continuing robust domestic demand” and noted that construction investment has shown solid growth as well.

In addition, Swiss exports have fallen less than expected a few months ago.

A sharp rise in value of the Swiss franc has eased since the Swiss National Bank set a minimum of 1.2 francs to the euro, taking pressure off exporters.

The Swiss currency nontheless remains at historic highs against other major counterparts.

As for unemployment, Seco forecast it would slip to 3.4 percent of the workforce this year from a previous estimate of 3.6 percent, while warning that is was likely to rise to 3.7 percent in 2013.

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