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Swiss Market Ends Slightly Higher

The Switzerland stock market ended marginally up on Thursday after a choppy session, with investors reacting to quarterly earnings reports and other corporate news.

Markets across Europe ended higher on Thursday, amid rising optimism about the U.S. and China signing an interim trade deal this month.

The benchmark SMI, which hit a new all-time high of 10,356.04, ended with a small gain of 8.68 points, or 0.08%, at 10,326.78. The index touched a low of 10,290.85 in early afternoon trades.

On Wednesday, the index ended up 45.12 points, or 0.44%, at 10,318.10.

Credit Suisse and UBS Group ended stronger by 1.81% and 1.62%, respectively. UBS said that it will tie up with Brazilian state-controlled lender Banco do Brasil to launch an investment bank in South America.

Swiss Re gained 1.51% after saying it is looking at acquiring a stake in China Pacific Insurance Co. via a primary offering of the Chinese company's securities.

Zurich Insurance Group advanced 1.37%. The insurer has reported a 2% rise in nine-month property and casualty gross written premiums.

Adecco ended nearly 1% up, while LafargeHolcim, Swatch Group, Givaudan and ABB gained 0.4 to 0.8%.

SGS declined more than 2%. Lonza Group, Sika, Swisscom, Nestle and Novartis ended lower by 0.5 to 1%.

In the midcap section, OC Oerlikon Corp shares gained about 3.6%. Bucher Industries advanced 3.3%, while Dufry, Temenos Group, AMS, Dorma Kaba Holding and Julius Baer ended higher by 2 to 2.6%.

Helvetia, VAT Group, Georg Fischer, Flughafen Zurich, Partners Group, BB Biotech and Baloise Holding also ended with strong gains.

Among other major markets in Europe, the U.K. ended marginally up with its benchmark FTSE 100 edging up 0.13%. Germany's DAX ended stronger by 0.83% and France's CAC 40 advanced 0.41%. The pan European Stoxx 600 ended up 0.37%.

In trade news, a spokesman for the Chinese Commerce Ministry said the U.S. and China have agreed to lift existing tariffs in phases.

"The trade war started with tariffs and should end with the cancellation of tariffs," said ministry spokesman Gao Feng, who noted phase one of a trade deal must include both countries simultaneously canceling tariffs on each other's goods.

"Both sides have agreed to cancel additional tariffs in different phases, as both sides make progress in their negotiations," Gao added without providing a timetable.

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