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Business Outlook

The Swiss National Bank's meeting, scheduled for Friday, is attracting most of the market's attention. Dealers are expecting the country's central bankers to announce a quarter per cent increase in Swiss interest rates.

Until then a mood of uncertainty is likely prevail over the equity and currency markets. If the Swiss National Bank fails to increase interest rates on Friday, the franc will continue to languish against the US dollar.

The markets will also be focusing in the auction of four third-generation UMTS mobile telecommunications licences. The auction was delayed at the last minute two weeks ago, and will now take place on Wednesday.

With just four companies bidding for the four licences, the auction is unlikely to yield anything close to the billions of francs in revenue that the federal government was hoping for. The opening bids have been set at minimum of SFr50 million ($29 million) per licence.

The corporate focus will be on watchmaker, Swatch. It is set to open a new store in Zurich for its Omega brand following the success of its Swatch stores.

Pharmaceutical group, Novartis, will be presenting its research and development work to analysts over the week. This follows on from other presentations by major drug companies over recent weeks.

Analysts are generally optimistic about the outlook for Novartis. They are pleased by the large number of products the company has in the pipeline, which should mean strong future earnings potential as these products come onto the market.

by Tom O’Brien

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR