November 30, 2017 / 7:34 AM / a year ago

Swiss GDP growth accelerates in Q3 as manufacturing picks up

ZURICH, Nov 30 (Reuters) - Switzerland's economy grew 1.2 percent year-on-year in the third quarter, accelerating sharply from the weak second quarter as manufacturing and exports picked up.

Growth rose to 0.6 percent quarter on quarter from an upwardly revised 0.4 percent in the second three months, with expansion broadly based across sectors, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs said on Thursday.

The export-led economy expanded 0.5 percent year on year in the second quarter, revised higher from the 0.3 percent originally reported, its slowest annual rate in nearly eight years.

The third-quarter growth easily beat the average estimate of 0.9 percent in a Reuters poll of economists, according to Thomson Reuters data.

The Swiss government in September cut its 2017 growth estimate to 0.9 percent. It forecast 2 percent expansion in 2018.

"Investments are playing an increasingly important role. That is good news because it can lead to a recovery that will accelerate without external input," VP Bank said in a note.

"Today's growth rates are a pre-Christmas present for the SNB. The franc does no longer weigh on the Swiss economy," the bank's economists said.

The economy has been gradually recovering since the Swiss National Bank (SNB) abandoned its 1.20 floor for the franc versus the euro nearly three years ago, sending the safe-haven franc soaring against the currency of its main export market.

SNB board member Fritz Zurbruegg said on Wednesday that the franc remained susceptible to safe-haven pressure, adding the central bank was still ready to intervene to stem upward pressure on the currency.

The SNB, which has been using negative interest rates and currency intervention to rein in the franc, holds its next quarterly policy meeting on Dec. 14.

Reporting by Michael Shields, Editing by William Maclean

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