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Swiss leading indicator edges off of three-year lows in March

[ZURICH] Switzerland's leading economic indicator edged up from three-year lows in March compared with the previous month but still signaled weak growth ahead, a survey showed on Monday.

The KOF economic barometer, which points to the performance of the Swiss economy in about six months' time, rose to 90.8 points in March from a revised 90.3 points in February, which was the lowest reading since December 2011.

The indicator exceeded analysts' expectations for a reading of 89.1 but remained well below the long-term average of 100.1 points.

March's higher reading was caused by a recovery in indicators for consumption, manufacturing and exports, KOF said. However, sentiment in construction and in the financial sector deteriorated further.

Switzerland's economy is still feeling the effects of the central bank's decision in January to end its cap on the value of the franc against the euro, which threatened to slow the country's export-driven economy.

"The change in the Swiss monetary policy has manifested itself in our barometer in February. In March, the indicator did not deteriorate any further compared to last month," the KOF Swiss Economic Institute said in a statement.

"Hence, according to the March reading of the barometer, the Swiss economy is expected to develop weakly in the near future.

Last week, the KOF institute raised its growth forecasts for Switzerland and now expects the economy to eke out growth in 2015 after dipping into a mild recession for part of the year due to the surge in the country's currency.