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The main mover on the market this week was the Swiss franc, which made good gains against the dollar and the euro. Its rise followed comments by Swiss National Bank chief economist Georg Rich on the central bank's non-interventionist policy.

The main mover on the market this week was the Swiss franc, which made good gains against the dollar and the euro. Its move followed comments by Swiss National Bank chief economist Georg Rich, who said the central bank was no longer trying to hold the franc stable against the euro. With the Swiss currency's safe haven status now back in the spotlight, the franc ended the week in a strong position. Following fluctuations on the US stock market, the dollar was buying SFr1.64 and the euro stood at SFr1.57.

The other major business news of the week included:

- Monday, Switzerland's Schindler revealed net profits up 6 per cent at SFr238 million. The company also looked to increased sales over the current year.
- Tuesday, Oerlikon Buehrle announced plans to change its name to Unaxis. The group, which is undergoing a major restructuring from old style conglomerate to streamlined high-tech, also revealed that numbers were back in the black in 1999, with a profit of SFr5 million, compared to a loss of SFr169 million in 1998.
- Tuesday, Swiss Post sets up its new Internet service, Yellow World. With an investment of SFr200 million, it plans to create 300 jobs.
- Wednesday, Anglo Swiss group Zurich Financial Services revealed net profits up 16 per cent at $3.26 billion. The group also proposed a $1 billion investment to boost the business it does via e-commerce services.
- Wednesday, US pharmaceuticals group Baxter created 130 jobs at its plant in canton Neuchatel. The company will invest SFr210 million over the next three years in its Swiss operation.
- Wednesday, Germany's Deutsche Bank and Dresdner Bank call off their merger, which would have created the world's biggest bank. Analysts look to the Swiss banking sector, among others, for possible targets for another merger target for Deutsche.
- Thursday, Swiss textile-to-automotive-components group Saurer disclosed a SFr70 million loss in 1999, compared to a SFr87 million profit in 1998. The company suffered at the hands of a weak textile market last year, but looked forward to a return to profit in 2000.
- Friday, unemployment hits an eight-year low in Switzerland, dropping to 2.3 per cent in March from 2.4 per cent in February. Much of the improvement is due to the pick-up in consumer spending, which is encouraging stores to take on more staff.

By Tom O'Brien.


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