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The business week in Switzerland

News of the interest rate cut pushed up the flagging Dow Jones and Nasdaq indices earlier this week

(Keystone)

This week's decision by the United States Federal Reserve to cut interest rates was the subject of much discussion in Switzerland when the markets resumed business after the New Year break.

Most Swiss economists welcomed the US move to cut rates by half a per cent, and said there would be no negative impact on the Swiss economy.

The rate reduction was designed to boost the American economy, which has shown signs of slowing down in recent weeks, in a bid to prevent a much-feared "hard landing" after a decade of unprecedented growth.

There was no move either by the European Central Bank or the Swiss National Bank to follow the Federal Reserve's lead.

In other news this week, the Swiss Federal Banking Commission said it was keeping a watchful eye on the development of electronic banking and intends to step up surveillance of Switzerland's two biggest banks.

The Commission said it was particularly concerned about the problems of customer identification and customer relations.

Switzerland's National Bank announced it had made a profit of SFr2.7 billion ($1.68 billion) in 2000, down from SFr4.5 billion the previous year.

The bank said exchange rate fluctuations were behind the decline, especially the rise in the dollar's value.

Swissport International, the ground-handling branch of the SAirGroup, announced on Wednesday that it is to expand its worldwide business. The company is entering the fast-growing market of business and private aircraft handing.

Also in aviation news, the newly privatised Unique Zurich Airport is pushing ahead with ambitious plans to export its know-how. It's one of two remaining bidders to help build and operate a new airport in the southern Indian city of Bangalore.

And finally, the Bern-based company Valora is selling two of its Slumberland bedding subsidiaries in Germany. Femira and Doerfert were both targets of management buy-outs. Negotiations for the sale of the rest of the Slumberland group are continuing.

by Michael Hollingdale

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