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Business Outlook

Following a week in which the Swiss Market Index hit a fresh high for the year, traders are expecting a quieter performance over the coming week.

Markets in Switzerland and across Europe are scheduled to close on Thursday for the Ascension Day holiday. Many dealers will also be taking a long weekend, staying away from their desks on Friday.

Among the economic highlights of the week, first quarter unemployment data is set for release on Wednesday. This is expected to show the continuing improvement in the employment situation here in Switzerland, as the economic recovery remains on track.

Also on Wednesday, Swiss specialty chemicals group Sika Finanz is holding its annual general meeting with shareholders. No doubt investors will be impressed by the company's forecast that sales will exceed SFr 2 billion this year; that's a year ahead of budget and follows on from a 21 per cent rise in sales in the first quarter to SFr 421 million.

Media attention will focus Tuesday on Swissair and its new partner in the United States, American Airlines. The two groups are going to give a media briefing about their alliance and also give more details of their new service from Zurich to Dallas/Fort Worth, which starts on June 1st.

As for the Swiss franc, following a stronger week against the dollar, some consolidation could be seen. The franc has benefited from the more aggressive stance taken by the European Central Bank in defence of the Euro. As long as the Euro continues to regain ground against the US dollar, the Swiss franc should also continue to move higher.

By Tom O'Brien.