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This week in business

The week will start off quietly as the Swiss bourse stays closed on Monday, along with other major European markets, for the first of May celebrations. Company results and shareholders' meetings are expected to dominate the rest of the week.

The week will start off quietly as the Swiss bourse stays closed on Monday, along with other major European markets, for the first of May celebrations. Company results and shareholders' meetings are expected to dominate the rest of the week.

On Tuesday, the Swiss construction chemicals group, Sika, is set to reveal its final numbers for 1999. The company expects to post a profit of around Sfr92 million, up from Sfr79 million in the previous year. Sales data was revealed back in February, up seven per cent at Sfr1.7 billion.

By Wednesday the focus will be on the Swatch Group, as it holds its annual news conference. In March, it disclosed a 23.5 per cent increase in 1999 profits, coming in at Sfr441 million. Swatch is now the world's second largest watchmaker and analysts will be hoping to see some indication of how this year's first quarter has been panning out.

Also on Wednesday the Swiss electrical utility group, Atel, holds its annual news conference. It is one of the country's largest power generators, with activities in Italy. Profits at the Olten-based group rose six per cent over last year to Sfr107 million.

Thursday sees the annual general meeting of Oerlikon-Bührle. Shareholders will get the chance to vote on plans to change the group's name to Unaxis. Last year the conglomerate revealed a modest profit of Sfr5 million, following a hefty loss in 1998.

Markets will no doubt continue to focus on the strength of the US dollar, which hit new ten year highs last week against the Swiss franc. Dealers will be keen to see if any action is taken in defence of the franc or the euro by central banks here in Europe.

by Tom O'Brien

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