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Swiss inflation steadies in July, still above SNB target

·1-min read
FILE PHOTO: A shopper carries bags after the Swiss government relaxed some of its COVID-19 restrictions, in Zurich

ZURICH (Reuters) -Swiss consumer price inflation held steady at 3.4% in July, slightly less than economists had expected after inflation touched a 29-year high in June.

The reading - still the sixth month in a row that inflation has risen above the Swiss National Bank's 0-2% target range - comes amid expectations that the central bank could soon tighten policy again after hiking its policy rate in June for the first time in 15 years. [nS8N2YF08G]

The index was unchanged versus June as prices for heating oil, clothing and footwear fell, offsetting higher prices for gas and supplementary accommodation.

The market had expected year-on-year inflation of 3.5%, according to a Reuters poll of 11 economists.

Core inflation that strips out volatile items like fuel and food prices fell 0.2% versus June and rose 2.0% year on year.

"Swiss inflation appears to have peaked in July at an enviably low level compared to that of most other advanced economies," analyst Michael Tran at Capital Economics said in a note to clients.

"That said, the core rate reached its highest level in more than two decades, which is likely to encourage the SNB to lift rates into positive territory in September, if not sooner."

The franc eased against the euro on the news.

Ongoing inflationary pressure means further monetary policy tightening will likely be needed, Swiss National Bank Chairman Thomas Jordan has said.

The SNB has signalled it is prepared to see the Swiss franc strengthen as a way to choke off imported inflation, a departure from the campaign it waged for years to rein in the safe-haven currency whose strength hurts the export-reliant economy.

(Reporting by Michael Shields; editing by Frank Jack Daniel)

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