Swiss Stocks Fall on Euro-Area Confidence Data; ABB Drops

Swiss stocks fell for the first time in three days after reports showed that economic confidence in the euro area dropped and more Americans than forecast applied for unemployment benefits.

ABB Ltd. (ABBN), the largest power-grid supplier, lost 2.3 percent after CA Cheuvreux and JPMorgan Chase & Co. lowered their recommendations on the stock. Straumann Holding AG (STMN), the biggest maker of dental implants, slid as first-quarter sales missed analyst estimates. Logitech (LOGN) International SA, the biggest maker of computer mice, surged the most since 2007 as fourth-quarter net income increased ninefold.

The Swiss Market Index (SMI) declined 0.5 percent to 6,122.41 at the close in Zurich. The measure has still rallied 3.1 percent so far this year as U.S. economic reports beat forecasts and the European Central Bank increased long-term lending to the region’s financial institutions. The broader Swiss Performance Index slipped 0.2 percent today.

“Investors aren’t letting the continuing stress factors, like the European debt crisis, out of their sight,” said Manfred Hofer, senior investment analyst at LGT Capital Management AG in Pfaeffikon, Switzerland. “Confidence in the markets has yet to be restored. All in all, it’s a balanced situation. A sideways movement with strong fluctuations can be expected in the next few days.”

Economic Confidence

An index of executive and consumer sentiment in the 17- nation euro area fell to 92.8 this month from a revised 94.5 in March, the European Commission said today. Economists had projected a drop to 94.2 from a previously reported 94.4, according to the median of 29 estimates in a Bloomberg survey.

Italy’s borrowing costs jumped at the sale of 8.5 billion euros ($11.3 billion) of six-month bills as renewed concern about the spread of the region’s debt crisis forced the Treasury to offer higher rates to attract investors.

The Treasury sold the debt at a rate of 1.772 percent, up from 1.119 percent at the previous auction on March 28.

In the U.S., a Labor Department report showed that more Americans than forecast filed initial jobless claims last week. Unemployment claims dropped to 388,000 from a revised 389,000 a week earlier. The median forecast of 48 economists had called for a reading of 375,000.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke signaled that further stimulus is unlikely unless the economy unexpectedly deteriorates. Still, central bankers “remain prepared to do more” if conditions worsen, he said.

ABB, Credit Suisse

ABB declined 2.3 percent to 17.38 Swiss francs after CA Cheuvreux downgraded the company’s shares to underperform, the equivalent of sell, from outperform. JPMorgan cut the stock to neutral, the equivalent of hold, from overweight. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. removed the stock from its conviction buy list.

Straumann lost 2.1 percent to 147.70 francs after reporting sales of 185 million francs compared with the average 188.6 million-franc analyst estimate.

Rival Nobel Biocare Holding AG, which is due to report results tomorrow, slipped 2.1 percent to 10.70 francs.

Credit Suisse Group AG (CSGN), Switzerland’s second-biggest bank, dropped 3.8 percent to 22.10 francs for the biggest decline on the SMI. The shares slid 2.5 percent yesterday as the company reported declining profit.

UBS AG (UBSN) fell 0.5 percent to 11.39 francs and Swiss Life Holding AG (SLHN) slipped 0.5 percent to 93.10 francs.

Logitech rallied 17 percent to 8.28 francs, the largest gain since October 2007. The company cut a layer of management to help save $80 million a year and said net income in the quarter ended March rose to $28 million from $3 million a year earlier. Revenue fell 3 percent to $532 million. Analysts expected profit of $12.4 million and sales of $528.8 million, according to the averages of estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

To contact the reporter on this story: Corinne Gretler in Zurich at cgretler1@bloomberg.net

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

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