ZURICH, Jan 18 (Reuters) - The Swiss blue-chip SMI was seen opening 0.25 percent higher at 8,325 points on Wednesday, according to premarket indications by bank Julius Baer.
The following are some of the main factors expected to affect Swiss stocks:
Two decades after they were spurred into action to tackle AIDS in Africa, global drugmakers said they would invest $50 million over three years to fight cancer and other non-communicable diseases in poor countries. Twenty-two companies, including Pfizer, Merck, Novartis , Roche, Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline , will contribute funds and expertise to the project, which is backed by the World Bank.
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Swiss watchmakers expect to at least stabilise sales this year after two years of decline as the important Chinese and U.S. markets show signs of turning the corner, executives said at an industry event on Tuesday.
The power and industrial automation maker sees 2017 as a transitional year with growth picking up in 2018 in the energy sector, Chief Executive Ulrich Spiesshofer said in an interview with CNBC.
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* Helvetia CEO Philipp Gmuer told Finanz und Wirtschaft the insurer has around 200 million Swiss francs ($199.3 million)of its own funds for possible acquisitions. Helvetia also has options as a listed company to raise funds, he said, adding that the company wants to grow especially in Germany and Spain.
* Emmi said it has signed an agreement to buy Italian Fresh Foods S.p.A. (IFF), based in Lasnigo, Como in Italy and which manufactures and markets Italian desserts. IFF generates sales of almost 20 million euros, 85 percent of which comes from outside Italy, Emmi said.
* Kudelski announced the acquisition of Dallas-based M&S Technologies, Inc., a specialist provider of cyber and network security solutions.
$1 = 1.0034 Swiss francs Reporting by Zurich newsroom