Shares in Switzerland's largest banking group UBS slumped 4.6 per cent on Wednesday, as investors grew increasingly worried about the company's fourth-quarter results due on Thursday.
The bank's shares closed at SFr216. Concerns that UBS might reveal lower than expected figures also weighed on the share price of its main Swiss competitor, Credit Suisse, which ended the day down 3.2 per cent.
Analysts are set to scrutinise the UBS numbers to see if restructuring and acquisitions at the world's largest wealth manager are working.
They are concerned that new assets under management, which directly relates to the level of earnings it can make, are on the wane.
The key figure will be net new money inflow in private banking, said analyst John Leonard at Schroder Salomon Smith Barney.
Most analysts forecast 2000 group fourth quarter net profit somewhere between SFr1.3 and SFr1.4 billion ($830.4 million). That's lower than the SFr2.075 billion reported in the third quarter, partly because of the weaker environment for investment banking.
The figure is also complicated by charges tied to UBS's $11.8 billion PaineWebber acquisition.
UBS said it would take a $400 million charge for restructuring linked to PaineWebber. But some analysts think it won't take the full amount in the fourth quarter.
The fourth quarter will also include PaineWebber's earnings for the first time.
The banking sector's poor performance on Wednesday dragged the SMI down to a fresh low for the year for a second consecutive day. The blue-chip index was down 0.89 per cent to 7637.1.
swissinfo with agencies