Swiss Stocks Fluctuate; Credit Suisse Gains, Swatch Shares Fall in Zurich

Stocks in Switzerland fluctuated as gains in Credit Suisse Group AG offset a decline in shares of Swatch Group AG after JPMorgan Chase & Co. downgraded the world’s biggest watchmaker.

Credit Suisse rose 1.5 percent as UniCredit Research said first-quarter results will be “very solid.” Swatch dropped 1.9 percent as JPMorgan cut its recommendation on the world’s biggest watchmaker “neutral” from “overweight.” Xstrata Plc sank 2.1 percent after China’s government moved to cool the nation’s real-estate market.

The Swiss Market Index, a gauge of the biggest and most actively traded Swiss companies, was little changed at 6,976.86 as of 11:26 a.m. local time, having swung between gains and losses at least five times. The SMI has gained 1.2 percent this week and rallied 6.5 percent this year as central banks maintained record low interest rates and the European Union agreed a contingency rescue plan to help Greece. The broader Swiss Performance Index gained less than 0.1 percent today.

“The broader U.S. market had a hard time trading in a clear direction. Today we see the same story in Europe,” said Stefano Mussati, an investment adviser at Credit Suisse Group AG in Milan. He highlighted “low volumes, with significant trading in just a few stocks.”

‘Solid’ Results

Credit Suisse advanced 1.5 percent to 57.25 francs. UniCredit Research reiterated a “buy” recommendation on the bank, saying in a note that “Credit Suisse is set to report a very solid, good-quality set of first-quarter results, providing a basis for further outperformance against the sector.”

Swatch dropped 1.9 percent to 325.6 francs, a third decline this week. JPMorgan downgraded the watchmaker to “neutral” from “overweight.” The brokerage said in a note that “Swatch provided, on fundamentals, the biggest positive surprise of second-half 2009 in the sector” and as that already lifted consensus estimates, there’s now “little scope for positive surprise.”

Xstrata dropped 2.1 percent to 20.7 francs. Basic-resource producers were the worst performers in Europe today on concern about the outlook for demand in China in light of government measures to cool the real-estate market.

Actelion, Sulzer

Actelion Ltd. gained for the first time this week, rising 0.8 percent to 48.39 francs as BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research added Switzerland’s largest biotechnology company to its “most preferred” list of stocks in the European health- care industry. The brokerage said in a note that “first-quarter results on April 22 should restore confidence in base business.

Sulzer AG gained 1.6 percent to 113.8 francs as the world’s second-biggest maker of pumps has its price projection increased at Credit Suisse Group AG, Helvea SA, and Bank Vontobel AG because of positive first-quarter order intake. Vontobel highlighted in a note today that “large orders seem slowly returning.”

Cosmo Pharmaceuticals SpA declined for a second day, falling 1.7 percent to 20 francs. The Italian developer of treatments for digestive-tract infections reported a drop in the book value of shares of Santarus Inc. after a U.S. court ruled in favor of Par Pharma and against Santarus in the Zegerid patent case.

To contact the reporter on this story: Francesca Cinelli in Milan at fcinelli@bloomberg.net.

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