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ZURICH, Jan 3 (Reuters) - The Swiss economy may gain momentum in the first half of 2014, a forward-looking survey of the country's economic mood showed on Friday, lifted by a recovery in industry, domestic consumption and exports to the European Union.
The KOF economic barometer, which points to the performance of the Swiss economy in about six months' time, rose for the ninth consecutive month to 1.95 points in December from 1.85 in November, the Swiss Economic Institute (KOF) said.
The reading chimes with other positive indicators that suggest the Swiss National Bank's policy of capping the franc at 1.20 per euro for the past two years has fended off recession and deflation.
The brightening outlook for growth and the tentative shift of prices towards positive territory, added to a market environment which should put less pressure on the franc to appreciate has prompted some economists to question whether the cap is still needed.
"The new development of the KOF economic barometer reinforces confidence in the current upswing phase of the Swiss business cycle," KOF economists said. "The Swiss economy is expected to gain further momentum."
The State Secretariat for Economics (SECO) raised its growth forecast for 2013 slightly in December, expecting a further acceleration in the next two years, to 2.7 percent in 2015.
Swiss exports fell 3 percent in November compared to the prior-year month, due to one less working day. When adjusted for this, exports would have risen 1 percent, the Federal Customs Office said. (Reporting by Alice Baghdjian; editing by Patrick Graham)