ZURICH, March 5 (Reuters) - Swiss stocks were expected to open steady on Wednesday as tensions over Ukraine appeared to ease, with investors looking to data and corporate earnings across Europe to provide direction.
The Swiss blue-chip SMI was seen rising opening virtually unchanged at 8,446 points, according to premarket indications by bank Julius Baer.
The following are some of the main factors expected to affect Swiss stocks on Wednesday:
An experimental drug reduced asthma attacks in patients with severe uncontrolled asthma by 60 percent and helped improve lung function in certain patients, indicating that the drug could offer the first personalized approach to treatment, according to data from a clinical trial released on Tuesday.
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China's process to approve Syngenta's SYNN.VX MIR162 genetically modified corn is underway after the firm submitted additional material to authorities in November and should go through quickly, Vice Agriculture Minister Niu Dun said.
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* Panalpina said its fourth-quarter net loss narrowed to 50.5 million Swiss francs ($56.98 million) from 51.3 million francs on the year, and that it expects the air freight market to grow by 2 to 3 percent and the ocean freight market by 4 to 5 percent this year. The company proposed a 2.20 franc per share dividend.
* Alpiq said it swung to a net profit of 18 million francs from a year-ago net loss and proposes an unchanged dividend of 2 francs per share, from capital contribution reserves.
* Leclanche said institutional investor Precept has agreed to step in for additional financing after last year's 17 million franc convertible loan, because the company cannot secure a bank loan due to its cash flow. Leclanche narrowed its full-year net loss to 13.6 million francs and said it wants to achieve a break-even on earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation by 2015.
* Tornos said it will implement a Swiss vote on executive pay curbs entirely at its shareholder meeting next month, as well as reduce its board to four members after investor Walter Fust successful takeover of the company.
* Ascom said full-year net profit rose to 36.9 million francs from 21.8 million francs year-ago, and that it will pay a 0.40 franc per share dividend.
* Evolva said Credit Suisse which is acting as bookrunner in its private placement, has exercised in full the over-allotment option of 4,050,000 shares at 1.37 francs per share. The shares underlying the over-allotment option have been sourced from Evolva's treasury.
$1 = 0.8863 Swiss francs