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Swiss Market Ends Weak

The Switzerland stock market ended lower on Thursday, after scoring gains in the previous three sessions, as profit taking and slowing exports dragged down share prices.

The benchmark SMI ended down 25.38 points, or 0.26%, at 9,571.22, after scaling a low of 9,543.14 and a high of 9,623.13 intraday.

Alcon, the Novartis spin-off, which made sparkling debut early last week, but saw some weak spells subsequently, fell again and ended lower by about 3.3%.

Novartis shed 2.1%. Roche Holding declined 1.1% and Swatch Group ended lower by about 0.8%.

Lonza Group advanced 2.2% by the time trading was halted at the counter ahead of the company's AGM.

LafargeHolcim gained 1.3%. The company announced that the issue price of new shares offered in lieu of a cash dividend will be set at a discount of 8% to a reference share price.

Nestle gained 0.8% after the company said it expecs organic sales growth to exceed 3% this year, following better-than-expected sales growth in the first three months.

Adecco moved up 1.3%. Swiss Life Holding, SGS, UBS Group and Swisscom gained 0.5 to 0.75%.

Data released by the Federal Customs Administration showed Switzerland's exports slowed in March, rising just 0.1% month-on-month, after rising 1.5% in February.

Exports edged up a real 0.1% month-on-month in March, after a 1.5% rise in February.

The drop in exports was due largely to the slowdown in growth of clothing and textile products shipments.

On a monthly basis, imports decreased a real 3.2%, following a 3% fall in the previous month.

The trade surplus rose to CHF 6.2 billion in March compared to the previous year.

Data from the Federation of Watch Exporters, or FHS, showed that watch exports rose 4.4% annually in February. Exports to the UK grew the most along with Japan, China, US and Hong Kong, the data said.

Among other major markets in Europe, Germany and France ended higher with their benchmarks gaining 0.57% and 0.31%, respectively. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 edged down by 0.15%. The pan European Stoxx 600 ended up 0.22%.

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