Swiss Stocks Decline; SMI Benchmark Heading for Its Second Weekly Loss
Swiss stocks fell for a second day, extending a second straight weekly decline for the benchmark Swiss Market Index, as Adecco SA and Transocean Ltd. dropped.
Adecco, the biggest supplier of temporary workers, declined 4.7 percent. Transocean Ltd. dropped 4.8 percent after BP Plc fired back at the company in a dispute over the withholding of information about possible causes of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Holcim Ltd. extended yesterday’s 6.3 percent loss as brokerages cut their price estimates. Kuoni Reisen Holding AG rose 2.2 percent after being upgraded at Citigroup Inc.
The SMI retreated 1.5 percent to 6,185.82 at the 5:30 p.m. close of trading in Zurich, bringing this week’s decline to 1.7 percent. Even so, the SMI has risen 4.1 percent since this year’s low on July 5 as concern abated that efforts by European governments to scale back spending may tip the economy back into recession. The broader Swiss Performance Index also dropped 1.5 percent today.
“It’s still a summer market without much conviction,” said Benno Galliker, a trader at Luzerner Kantonalbank AG. “There is a tug-of-war going on between bears, backed by bad economic news, and bulls” as equities are cheap and most are underinvested. “In the end it’s Friday and nobody wants to have too much risk on the books.”
Adecco fell 4.7 percent to 48.03 Swiss francs, while ABB Ltd., the world’s largest builder of electricity networks, lost 2.1 percent to 19.8 francs.
‘False and Misleading’
Transocean retreated 4.8 percent to 52.25 francs. James Neath, BP’s associate general counsel, said an Aug. 18 letter from a Transocean attorney asserting BP wasn’t releasing critical data contained “many false and misleading assertions.”
Zurich Financial Services AG, Switzerland’s largest insurer, declined 1.9 percent to 225.9 francs. Swiss Reinsurance Co., the second-largest reinsurer, lost 1.7 percent to 42.92 francs. Swiss Life Holding AG ended a three-day gain, falling 1.6 percent to 108.7 francs. Helvea SA downgraded Switzerland’s biggest life insurer to “accumulate” from “buy,” citing “the sharp decline in interest rates and the impact on Swiss Life’s new business profitability.”
Holcim fell 2.1 percent to 62.15 francs. Brokerages including Credit Suisse Group AG, Deutsche Bank AG and Jefferies International Plc trimmed their share-price estimates on the world’s second-biggest cement maker.
Basilea Pharmaceutica Ltd. slid 3.9 percent to 56.75 francs as brokerages including BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research and Jefferies lowered their price estimates on the biotechnology company.
Coltene Holding AG sank 3.5 percent to 56 francs after the Swiss dental product and equipment company posted first-half earnings before interest and taxation of 5.8 million francs ($5.6 million). While sales increased “impressively, profitability was weak on all aspects apart from cash flow,” Helvea SA said in a note.
Straumann Holding AG fell 3.9 percent to 235.2 francs, ending a two-day increase. UBS AG, which has a “buy” rating on the maker of dental implants, lowered its price estimate to 270 francs from 285 francs, saying “the outlook remains cautious.”
Kuoni rose 2.2 percent to 347.5 francs. Citigroup upgraded the largest Swiss travel company to “hold” from “sell.” The brokerage cited “very strong first-half results.”
Mobilezone Holding AG increased 1 percent to 10 francs. Switzerland’s second-largest mobile phone retailer said first- half net income rose 15 percent to 10.9 million francs.