Swiss National Bank keeps ultra-loose monetary policy

The Swiss National Bank maintained its expansionary monetary policy on Thursday, citing a “fragile” exchange rate situation that made it essential for the central bank to keep interest rates negative and be ready to intervene in currency markets.

The SNB kept its target range for the three-month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) at -1.25 to -0.25 percent, as unanimously forecast in a Reuters poll of economists.

The central bank also held the interest rate it charges on sight deposits at -0.75 percent, adding it remained ready to intervene in the foreign currency markets to block a rise in the Swiss franc.

Both measures have been employed by the SNB to stem investor appetite for the franc over the last three-and-a-half years.

The SNB maintained its description of the franc as “highly valued”, adding that despite the currency’s weakening during 2018 the situation on the currency markets was “fragile”.

EU ready to open talks with U.S. to fix trade row: Malmstrom

The European Union is ready to engage with the United States to solve a trade row triggered by its decision to impose tariffs on European metals, E.U. Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said on Thursday.

Describing the U.S. tariffs as “illegal” and contravening World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, Malmstrom said there was no choice but to take retaliatory action to protect European interests and jobs.

“We think it is ridiculous to consider the EU as a threat to U.S. national security,” she told a seminar. “We are always open to talk with the U.S. The whole EU is based on the idea that we talk.”

The European Union will begin charging import duties of 25 percent on a range of U.S. products on Friday, in response to U.S tariffs put on EU steel and aluminum early this month, Malmstrom said.

The United States, after imposing punitive tariffs on a number of its top trading partners, this week threatened China with further duties on $200 billion worth of trade, escalating a conflict that has already drawn retaliatory steps from around the world.


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