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Swiss National Bank posts $34 billion loss as bond losses bite

·2-min read
Swiss National Bank logo is pictured in Bern

ZURICH (Reuters) - The Swiss National Bank reported a first quarter loss of 32.8 billion Swiss francs ($33.75 billion), the central bank said on Thursday, as lower bond prices and the higher franc dented the value of its foreign currency investments.

The bank made a loss of 36.8 billion francs from its foreign currency investments built up during its campaign to tame the franc.

The bank made a profit of 1.6 billion francs from interest on its bond portfolio and 800 million francs in dividends from the stocks and shares it holds in companies which include Starbucks and Google owner Alphabet.

But this was wiped out by a big valuation loss on its bond portfolio, which makes up 80% of the 977 billion francs held by the SNB in foreign currency investments.

As bond prices tumbled earlier this year, due to investors anticipating higher interest rates by central banks fighting resurgent inflation, the SNB made a valuation loss of 25.1 billion francs on its fixed income holdings.

The central bank also made a loss of 10.7 billion francs from its share portfolio, and a 3.4 billion francs exchange rate related loss as the more expensive Swiss franc reduced the value of its foreign investments when translated back into francs.

The franc surged in value earlier this year as investors sought safe havens after war erupted in Ukraine, while stock markets also declined.

The flight for safety increased the price of gold during the period, with the SNB making a valuation gain of 4.2 billion francs on its gold holdings.

But it made only a tiny profit of 10.6 million francs from its Swiss franc positions, mainly from the negative interest rates it charges on some domestic banks for parking their money with it overnight. The negative interest rate is one of the tools used by the SNB to block the rise of the Swiss franc.

($1 = 0.9718 Swiss francs)

(Reporting by John Revill; editing by Riham Alkousaa and Jason Neely)

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