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The business week ahead

A central bankers' meeting in Basel, the release of Switzerland's latest unemployment figures, and a raft of shareholders' meetings, are the main items on the business agenda in Switzerland this week.

The latest unemployment figures are due to be released today with many analysts predicting another fall in the jobless rate as Switzerland's economic upswing continues.

Unemployment currently stands at 2.4 per cent, and is forecast to fall to two per cent by the end of the year, and to 1.7 per cent during 2001.

The world's most important central bankers are gathering in Basel for their monthly meeting at the Bank for International Settlements. The continued weakness of the single European currency is bound to loom large over the discussions.

It hard to see how the euro's slide can be reversed, though. The new currency has fallen almost continuously against the dollar since its launch last year, and every statement by the European Central Bank seems to drive it lower.

A raft of shareholder meetings is due this week. Among the most important is that of SGS on Thursday, where shareholders will be invited to elect two new board members.

Travel giant, Kuoni, which has been expanding its operations through a series of ambitious acquisitions, has its AGM on Thursday, too, with Holderbank's shareholders gathering on Friday.

Among other events this week, the chairman of Zurich Financial Services, Rolf Hüppi addresses the Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce in Geneva on Wednesday. His theme is the War for Talent. It's a subject close to the hearts of many business leaders as young talent looks to the new economy rather than the traditional sector for career opportunities.

by Michael Hollingdale

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