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European stocks mixed, Switzerland in focus

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

European stocks ended moderately mixed on Monday, after solid gains ahead of the weekend despite poorly-received US jobs data.

The Swiss stock market and franc held up after a shock vote in favour of Switzerland restricting immigration with the European Union.

London's benchmark FTSE 100 index ended the day up 0.30 percent at 6,591.55 points.

Frankfurt's DAX 30 dropped 0.13 percent to 9,289.86 points, but the CAC 40 in Paris added 0.21 percent to 4,237.13 points.

The Zurich stock exchange ended the day virtually unchanged.

US stocks were also mixed Monday after scoring their strongest week of the year, with investors keenly awaiting the new Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen's first testimony to Congress.

In midday trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.14 percent at 15,772.35.

The broad-based S&P 500 edged down 0.13 percent to 1,794.63, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index rose 0.24 percent to 4,135.93.

Yellen, who succeeded Ben Bernanke as Fed chair on February 1, presents the Fed's semi-annual view of the economy and monetary policy to lawmakers in two hearings this week.

"What Ms. Yellen says in her prepared remarks and in the Q&A portion of her testimony should set the tone for the week, not just for the stock market but for all capital markets," said Patrick O'Hare of US-based Briefing.com.

In foreign exchange trading on Monday, the European single currency edged up to $1.3642 from $1.3637 late in New York on Friday.

The Swiss franc, which Switzerland's central bank held down at the height of the eurozone debt crisis, eased slightly to 1.2235 to the euro from 1.2239 on Friday.

"The free movement of labour between Switzerland and the EU is now in question," Credit Suisse bank said in a note to clients.

"The short-term effects on growth are probably limited, but the medium- and longer-term growth potential of Switzerland could be seriously affected."

It estimated that the uncertainty would cut employment growth in half over the next three years, a reduction of 80,000 jobs.

The price of gold jumped to $1,277 an ounce from $1,256.25 an ounce on Thursday.

On the corporate front, Barclays' share price rose 1.21 percent to 275 pence after the British bank revealed on Monday a surge in annual pre-tax profits, in an unexpected statement amid media speculation over its earnings.

Statutory profit before tax hit £2.9 billion ($4.8 billion, 3.5 billion euros) in 2013, compared with £246 million in 2012, Barclays said one day before its scheduled full-year results statement.

In Paris, shares in cosmetics giant L'Oreal were showing a gain of 4.45 percent to 129 euros on speculation that the group might buy back shares owned by Nestle, and might signal this in results to be announced after the close of trading. A buy-back would raise earnings per share.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/140210/european-stocks-mixed-switzerland-focus