SNB launches new reference rate, sticks with loose policy

Credit: REUTERS/DENIS BALIBOUSE

The Swiss National Bank kept its ultra-loose monetary policy in place on Thursday to ease pressure on the "highly valued" Swiss franc as central banks in the United States and Europe hinted at loosening their own interest rates.

By John Revill

BERN, June 13 (Reuters) - The Swiss National Bank kept its ultra-loose monetary policy in place on Thursday to ease pressure on the "highly valued" Swiss franc as central banks in the United States and Europe hinted at loosening their own interest rates.

The central bank also introduced a new SNB policy rate, to replace its previous target for three-month Libor.

"From now on, it will use this rate in taking and communicating its monetary policy decisions. The SNB policy rate replaces the target range for the three-month Libor used previously, and currently stands at −0.75%," the central bank said.

"The SNB will seek to keep the secured short-term Swiss franc money market rates close to the SNB policy rate," it added. "The reason for introducing the SNB policy rate is that the future of the Libor is not guaranteed."

The SNB kept an interest rate of -0.75% on balances it holds for commercial banks above a certain threshold, as forecast in a Reuters poll.

The central bank also repeated its pledge to intervene in the foreign exchange markets where necessary to curb upward pressure on the Swiss franc, which this month hit its highest level against the euro EURCHF= in two years.

"The SNB's expansionary monetary policy remains necessary against the backdrop of the current price and economic developments," the central bank said. "On a trade-weighted basis, the Swiss franc is somewhat stronger than in March and is still highly valued. The situation on the foreign exchange market continues to be fragile."

(Reporting by John Revill, editing by John Miller)

((John.Revill@thomsonreuters.com; +41 58306 7022; Reuters Messaging: john.revill.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

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