Swiss stocks - Factors to watch on March 20

ZURICH, March 20 Thu Mar 20, 2014 3:05am EDT

ZURICH, March 20 (Reuters) - Swiss stocks were expected to open lower on Thursday, mirroring falls on Wall Street and in Asia as indications from the U.S. Federal Reserve that it could start to raise interest rates much earlier than expected spooked investors.

The Swiss blue-chip SMI was seen opening down 0.4 percent at 8,191 points, according to premarket indications by bank Julius Baer.

The following are some of the main factors expected to affect Swiss stocks on Thursday:

MERCURIA

JPMorgan is selling its physical commodities business to Mercuria for $3.5 billion, the U.S. bank said on Wednesday, sweeping the fast-growing Swiss trading house into the top league of commodities traders.

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COMPANY STATEMENTS

* Novartis said it had launched in Europe a Lucentis pre-filled syringe specifically designed for intraocular injection.

* Basler Kantonalbank said it was closing its private banking locations in Zurich and Berne to concentrate on its Basel-based businesses.

* U-Blox posted a rise in net profit for 2013 to 24.6 million Swiss francs from 17.1 million the previous year.

* Myriad reported a net loss of $42.9 million for 2013, versus a loss of 58.5 million in 2012.

* Meyer Burger posted a 2013 net loss of 162.8 million Swiss francs, versus 110.7 million in 2012, and announced the placement of 4.8 million registered shares from its existing authorised capital.

ECONOMY

Swiss trade data for February due at 0700 GMT

The Swiss National Bank is due to announce its quarterly monetary policy decision at 0830 GMT

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