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The business week ahead

Dealer attention will once again focus on the Swiss franc, following a week in which the Swiss currency reached an all-time high against the European single currency, the euro.

The Swiss franc has been attracting "safe-haven" status amid turbulence on world stock markets and troubles in the Middle East. However, the US dollar has so far remained the overall winner and looks set to continue on its stronger path against both the euro and the Swiss franc.

On the corporate front, Ciba Specialty Chemicals will be attracting the headlines on Tuesday as it reveals its third quarter sales figures.

The Basel-based group last week announced it was selling most of its 49 per cent stake in United States aerospace fabrics maker, Hexcel, to an investor group led by Goldman Sachs.

Ciba said it would sell approximately 14.5 million shares of Hexcel common stock in a transaction valued at $11.00 per share (SFr18), or about $160 million (SFr278 million) in total.

Dealers will be keen to see if the third quarter numbers point in the direction promised back in August when the company forecast a double-digit percentage rise in full-year net profit.

The Roche health care group in Basel will also disclose its third quarter numbers on Tuesday.

Last week, the company said it had enough money put aside to cover its share of a $255 million settlement that six vitamin manufacturers must pay to US states.

The costs relate to a settlement agreed by Roche and five European and Japanese vitamin firms, which were charged with price fixing in the vitamin market.

The world's biggest food group, Nestlé, will announce its third quarter sales on Friday.

At the end of last month, its chief executive Peter Brabeck said that the Vevey-based company would continue to focus on internal growth as the best way to expand but added that he would not rule out large acquisitions.

by Tom O'Brien

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