Stocks in Switzerland rose the most in two weeks following better-than-forecast reports on U.S. manufacturing and initial jobless claims.
Novartis AG and Roche Holding AG (ROG) pulled the Swiss Market Index (SMI) higher. Adecco (ADEN) SA, the world’s largest supplier of temporary workers, climbed 2.8 percent. Credit Suisse Group AG (CSGN) and Zurich Financial Services AG (ZURN) rose more than 1 percent.
The SMI, a measure of Switzerland’s biggest and most actively traded companies, increased 1.1 percent to 5,784.14 at the close in Zurich, its largest gain since Nov. 30. The benchmark measure has still declined 10 percent this year as the euro area’s debt crisis spread. The broader Swiss Performance Index added 0.9 percent today.
“The improvement in sentiment in the industry is to be seen as positive,” Viola Stork, an analyst at Helaba Landesbank Hessen-Thueringen in Frankfurt, wrote in an e-mail. “Overall, the U.S. economy should be able to have moderate growth in the fourth quarter.”
A measure of manufacturing in the New York region expanded more than forecast to its highest level in seven months, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The general economic index accelerated to 9.5 in December from 0.6 in November. Economists had projected the gauge would rise to 3. Readings greater than zero show companies in the so-called Empire State Index are boosting output.
Initial Jobless Claims
A Labor Department report today showed that the number of applications for unemployment benefits unexpectedly dropped last week to the lowest level in three years, showing the U.S. labor market is healing.
Jobless claims dropped by 19,000 to 366,000 in the week ended Dec. 10, the fewest since May 2008, topping the median projection for 390,000, according to 47 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.
“The recovery of the economy is gradually also coming into play in the labor market,” Stork said.
The Swiss central bank kept the franc’s minimum exchange rate at 1.20 per euro today. Swiss National Bank President Philipp Hildebrand said the minimum exchange rate helped correct “the massive overvaluation” of the franc. He added that policy makers are ready to take further measures “at any time” to counter deflation risks if needed. The central bank held its benchmark interest rate at zero.
Novartis, Europe’s biggest drugmaker (NOVN), added 2.9 percent to 52.70 Swiss francs, its biggest advance since Sept. 6. Roche, the world’s largest maker of cancer drugs, climbed 1.7 percent to 159.70 francs. The two stocks make up 35 percent of the SMI. Drugs from Roche and Novartis slowed the progression of breast tumors in separate studies, research released at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium showed.
Lonza Group AG (LONN), the world’s biggest maker of drug ingredients, rose 2.6 percent to 54.35 francs after saying it signed an applied protein services agreement with ImmuneMed.
Adecco gained 2.8 percent to 37.65 francs after Paul Sullivan, an analyst at Barclays Plc, rated the stock as “equal weight” in new coverage with a price estimate of 43 francs.
Swiss Re Ltd., the world’s second-biggest reinsurer, advanced 2.8 percent to 48.16 francs and Zurich Financial added 1.2 percent to 203.50 francs as a gauge of European insurers had the biggest gain of 19 industry groups in the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, rising 2.3 percent.
Credit Suisse climbed 1.7 percent to 21.89 francs. The bank plans to combine the operational functions of its private- banking and investment-banking units from next year to help lower costs.
Valora Holding AG (VALN), Switzerland’s biggest newspaper vendor, advanced 3.4 percent to 186.60 francs, its biggest gain in two weeks, after saying retail strategy has exceeded expectations. Jon Cox, an analyst at Kepler Capital Markets, raised the stock to “hold” from “reduce.”
Transocean Ltd. (RIG) dropped 1.4 percent to 37.83 francs. Federal prosecutors in Campos, in the oil region of Rio de Janeiro state in Brazil, are suing Transocean and Chevron Corp. for 20 billion reais ($10.8 billion) in environmental and social damages following an oil spill. Prosecutors also asked a court to suspend their operations, according to a statement released yesterday.
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