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Swiss Stocks End Notably Higher For 2nd Straight Day

Despite a downward revision in the country's growth forecast for the current year, the Switzerland stock market ended on a buoyant note on Thursday, mirroring the positive trend seen across Europe.

The benchmark SMI ended up 94.47 points, or 1.01%, at 9,481.90, after rising to a high of 9,498.48.

On Wednesday, the index ended up 55.81 points, or 0.6%, at 9,387.43, rallying from an early low of 9,310.28.

Geberit ended stronger by 2.85%, topping the list of gainers in benchmark SMI. Roche Holdings, LafargeHolcim, Nestle and Zurich Insurance Group gained 1 to 1.3%.

Novartis said that the chief executive of Sandoz, the company's generic business, has stepped down "for personal reasons". The stock ended 1.1% up.

Lonza Group, Adecco, Julius Baer, Swiss Life Holding, Swiss Re, Credit Suisse and Givaudan also closed on a firm note.

Shares of Dufry AG jumped 3.2% after the company, which returned to growth in the fourth quarter of 2018, said it expects organic sales to continue gradually improving in 2019 on new concessions.

Cicor Technologies shares soared 11% after the company reported net income of CHF 9.6 million for 2018, compared to net income of CHF 6.7 million a year earlier.

In economic news, the government's Expert Group, which releases macroeconomic forecasts every quarter, cut the growth forecast for this year further, citing weaker demand for the country's exports due to the slowdown in the global economy and trade.

The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) trimmed Switzerland's GDP growth forecast for this year to 1.1% from 1.5% predicted in December.

The Swiss economy grew 2.5% in 2018, which was faster than the 1.6% expansion in the previous year.

The growth forecast for next year was left unchanged at 1.7%, as the global economy is expected to gain moderate momentum, boosting trade and thus, the Swiss economy.

"Switzerland would be particularly affected if the conflict between the US and the EU were to escalate and, for example, substantial tariffs on German cars were to be introduced," the report said.

"Conversely, the domestic and the foreign economy could pick up again more strongly in case of an agreement on major aspects of the trade dispute."

Among other major markets in Europe, France's CAC 40 gained 0.82%. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 and Germany's DAX closed higher by 0.37% and 0.13%, respectively. The pan European Stoxx 600 ended higher by 0.78%, mirroring a strong display by almost all sectors and major markets in the zone.

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