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Business outlook

Preparations for the stock market debut of new crop protection company, Syngenta, and more currency wobbles, are likely to dominate the business headlines this week.

The foreign exchange markets will be watching the Swiss franc closely in the next few days, following its fall to a 14-year low against the dollar last week.

Dragging down the franc is the single European currency, which plumbed new depths against the US dollar. Speculators are betting that the European Central Bank will refrain from any intervention to prop up the ailing euro, given the ineffectiveness of its previous attempt to boost the currency.

This means the immediate outlook for the euro and Swiss franc is one of continued weakness against the ever-stronger US dollar.

On the corporate front, Syngenta will be preparing the ground for its stock market debut on November 13.

Syngenta was created by the merger of the agribusinesses of Switzerland's Novartis and British group, AstraZeneca. It will be the world's largest crop protection company.

The creation of Syngenta ends Novartis's involvement in life sciences and will allow the Basel-based group to focus on pharmaceuticals.

Half-yearly corporate results are expected from the Swiss firm, Phonak, which specialises in hearing aids and voice communication systems. The group had a very strong performance in the first quarter, with sales boosted because of its latest hearing aid system.

Analysts expect another strong performance to come through in the second quarter, with a net profit increase in excess of 20 per cent.

by Tom O'Brien

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