08/05/2011 02:25 am ET Updated Oct 04, 2011

SNB chief prepared to act if franc rises further: report

ZURICH, Aug 5 - Swiss National Bank Chief (SNB) Philipp Hildebrand will not put up with further appreciation in the franc without acting, a Swiss newspaper has reported him as saying.

"We will not accept a further franc appreciation without acting," he told the NZZ newspaper in an interview published on Friday.

The SNB announced a shock cut in interest rates to "as close as possible to zero" on Wednesday and said they would very significantly increase the supply of francs to the money market over the next few days.

The franc hit a fresh all-time high of 1.0710 against the euro in early trading on Friday but pulled back to trade at 1.0822 by 0547 GMT.

Hildebrand told the paper the SNB had not ruled out any course of action and is prepared to take further measures if necessary.

With low-debt Switzerland seen as a safe haven from an escalating euro zone debt crisis and fears of a U.S. rating downgrade, the franc has surged 18 percent against the euro and 22 percent against the dollar in recent months.

Swiss exporters have called on both the SNB and the government to take action against the currency's steep rise although the bank has also been criticized for the heavy losses it incurred in its post-crisis interventions in 2009 and 2010.

Hildebrand said the strong franc was exerting an extreme disinflationary effect and risked endangering the economy.

"We expect a marked weakening in the economy in the second half of the year. Growth may soften significantly and the situation in the jobs market could deteriorate," he said.

He said Switzerland had experienced low unemployment for a long while but that could change in the coming quarters especially as exports are expected to fall.

(Reporting by Caroline Copley; editing by Patrick Graham)