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The Swatch group is expected to post strong results for 2000

(Keystone Archive)

Investors will be watching the markets closely this week ahead of the release of key inflation data and a tranche of important corporate results.

The Federal Statistics Office is due to release the consumer price index for January at the end of the week, and analysts will be keen to see if inflation picks-up in line with the improved performance of the economy.

Any increase in inflation could encourage the Swiss National Bank (SNB) to move interest rates higher, which would offer further support to the Swiss franc on the foreign exchange markets.

However, with inflation in December running at a mere 1.5 per cent year-on-year, it's unlikely that the price data will move out of the central bank's target range.

Wednesday will see corporate news from the employment agency giant, Adecco. Industry pundits are expecting good results: sales could rise by as much as 44 per cent over last year, with operating profit up 45 per cent.

Adecco may be in for hard times this year, though, given the expected economic slowdown in the United States, where the company does much of its business.

Results for last year are also expected from Biel-based watch group, Swatch. Most analysts predict a 20 per cent increase in sales to around SFr4.25 billion ($2.6 billion) in 2000.

In the financial sector, Bank Julius Baer will reveal its final numbers for 2000 next week. After good results from fellow asset manager, Vontobel, last week traders will no doubt be looking for a good performance from Baer.

by Tom O'Brien

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