Swiss Stocks Increase; Novartis, Sulzer Gain as Swisscom Slides in Zurich

Swiss stocks climbed as investors awaited the minutes of the latest meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee.

Novartis AG (NOVN) rose 1.7 percent. Sulzer AG (SUN), the world’s second-largest maker of pumps, surged 3.3 percent.

The Swiss Market Index (SMI) of the biggest and most actively traded companies gained 0.2 percent to 6,430.3 at the 5:30 p.m. close in Zurich. The gauge has advanced 6.8 percent since this year’s low on March 16 as investors speculated that Japan’s largest earthquake on record and the popular revolts in north Africa and the Middle East won’t derail the economic recovery. The broader Swiss Performance Index also added 0.2 percent today.

“Things are consolidating,” said Beat Wittmann, Chief Executive Officer of Dynapartners AG in Zollikon, Switzerland. “We’re in a mid-stage recovery of the 2008-09 recession. Still, we’re positive on equities.”

U.S. service industries grew less than forecast in March, a sign that the biggest part of the economy is trailing the gains in manufacturing.

The Institute for Supply Management’s index of non- manufacturing businesses decreased to 57.3 from 59.7 in February. Economists had forecast that the gauge would fall to 59.5, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey. A reading above 50 signals growth for about 90 percent of the economy.

The Federal Reserve will publish the minutes from the FOMC’s March 15 meeting at 2 p.m. Washington time, after the close of trading in Europe.

“Raise Rates”

“We’re going to see the ECB probably raise rates tomorrow,” said John Ryding, chief economist and co-founder of RDQ Economics, on Bloomberg Television’s “In the Loop” with Betty Liu today. “The Fed should be moving to that kind of exit strategy.”

China raised interest rates today for the fourth time since the end of the global financial crisis to restrain inflation and limit the risk of asset bubbles in the fastest-growing major economy.

Portugal’s credit rating was cut by Moody’s Investors Service, which said the government will probably seek a European bailout. Moody’s downgraded Portugal’s long-term government bond ratings by one notch to Baa1 from A3, and said the rating remains under review for another possible downgrade.

Novartis, Sulzer

Novartis added 1.7 percent to 50.90 Swiss francs for the biggest gain in the SMI.

Winterthur, Switzerland-based Sulzer gained 3.3 percent to 144.80 francs.

Swisscom AG (SCMN), the nation’s biggest fixed and mobile phone operator fell 1.1 percent to 411.50 francs after Credit Suisse Group AG downgraded the shares to “neutral” versus “outperform.” Competition in Italy and price cuts in Switzerland will affect first-quarter results, according to Justin Funnell, an analyst at the bank in London.

Evolva Holding SA (EVE), the Reinach, Switzerland-based biopharmaceutical company, tumbled 6.2 percent to 1.52 francs, its first loss in four days.

“We continue to see pressure on the shares as venture capitalists are trying to exit,” wrote Andrew Weiss, an analyst at Vontobel Holding AG in Zurich.

Newron Pharmaceuticals SpA (NWRN) dropped 5.1 percent to 6.55 francs after the Italian biotechnology company reported a full- year net loss of 20.5 million euros ($29.2 million).

To contact the reporter on this story: Giles Broom in Zurich at gbroom@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Rummer at arummer@bloomberg.net

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