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The week was marked by the increasing strength of the US dollar and SAir's takeover of Belgium's national carrier, Sabena.

The week was marked by the increasing strength of the US dollar and SAir's takeover of Belgium's national carrier, Sabena.

The US dollar traded at ten-year highs against the franc, which reflected the weakness of the euro. The dollar rose above SFr1.72 for the first time since 1989. But the Swiss National Bank left interest rates unchanged as the European Central Bank increased its key rate by 25 basis points.

SAir continued its growth strategy by signing an agreement to take a majority stake in Belgium's national carrier, Sabena. It is increasing its stake to 85 per cent, with the Belgian government acquiring a 3.5 per cent stake in SAir in return.

The construction company, Zschokke, announced a three-fold increase in profits for 1999 to SFr seven million. Turnover grew 5.7 per cent to just over SFr one billion.

Two new service providers entered the mobile telecommunications market. Tele 2 and Sunrise struck agreements with Swisscom and Orange allowing then to gain access to their networks.

And the Swiss exchange awaited the outcome of merger talks between London and Frankfurt with negotiations entering a crucial phase. An announcement is expected next week.

by Michael Hollingdale

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