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Swiss Franc Likely to Maintain Strength

August 5, 2020

Swiss Franc

Towards the end of June, the Swiss franc was rising against the USD as fears of a second wave of COVID-19 controlled the markets, with demand for safe-haven assets growing. The downturn in the USD/CHF continued into July, with the trend accelerating in the second half of the month, falling to 0.9120 today.

The key reasons for the earlier high we had seen in the USD was due to anticipation that a COVID-19 vaccine would soon be available, which boosted risk appetite in the markets and led investors away from the CHF and towards the USD. As talks within the European Union finally coming to an agreement on a recovery fund, the strength of the CHF was further boosted.

The unknown outcome of COVID-19 and the potential consequences of a “second wave” of the virus this coming winter, will play a large role in determining the continuing demand for safe-haven currencies such as the CHF.

The euro has been seeing strength in the currency markets due to the fact that COVID-19 cases have been spiking in the United States. The unexpected strength of the euro slightly reduced the demand for the Swiss franc.

The euro rose against the franc from just under 1.05 in May to 1.0753 at the start of August. From a risk-reward standpoint, if there were to be a second wave of COVID-19 with significant economic movement, then the Swiss franc may see a stronger rebound against currencies such as the EUR and USD.

As regards the Swiss economy itself, Switzerland continues to pursue a policy of negative rates, with the central bank maintaining a rate of -0.75%. With Switzerland continuing to make large foreign exchange interventions to prevent the currency from rising too rapidly, there is a possibility that the United States may choose to pay more attention to Switzerland in determining whether the country meets the criteria for officially being labeled a “currency manipulator”.

When the United States added Switzerland to its watchlist in January, the value of the franc rose to its strongest level against the euro in almost three years.

With speculation mounting that the U.S. could officially label the country as a manipulator, this will dissuade Switzerland from further attempts to weaken the currency, meaning we may see further strengthening of the currency.

It is likely that further strengthening of the Swiss franc will occur due to a rebound consumer demand. While the Swiss National Bank is apprehensive of the franc becoming too strong and harming exports, strength in the currency also appears to have boosted consumer spending.