Business outlook

In corporate news, the week ahead's most keenly awaited event will be the release on Thursday of Novartis' results.

This content was published on February 13, 2000 - 09:41

In corporate news, the week ahead's most keenly awaited event will be the release on Thursday of Novartis' results.

Novartis was formed four years ago through the merger of Sandos and Ciba but the marriage has been troubled and sales at its flagship drugs division remain sluggish. The stock has also disappointed many investors.

Along with its results, Novartis is also due to unveil a timetable for the US listing of its receipts, which would allow it to make its debut on the New York stock exchange in the second quarter of the year.

The lack of a US listing is an obstacle to efforts to find a US merger partner. The pressure on Novartis to form a US partnership has been growing amid the current industry merger craze.

In other corporate news, the high-tech manufacturer of CD and DVD machines, 4M, releases its results on Tuesday. The company's stock is a high-flier and analysts expect a glowing set of figures.

Economic news is thin on the ground, though Monday sees the latest producer/import prices published. Economists will be sensitive to any signs of inflationary pressure as the recovery gathers pace.

And eyes will also remain fixed on the franc/dollar rate which has been hovering between 1.62 and 1.63.

Traders say a fragile balance has now been struck between the US and Europe after recent interest rate rises. But they'll be awaiting the European Central Bank meeting on Thursday for any further indications of monetary tightening.

By Michael Hollingdale

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