Swiss Stocks Advance as Holcim Rises; Gottex Shares Drop

Swiss stocks gained for a fourth day as U.S. President Barack Obama pledged to seek a free-trade agreement with the European Union and investors awaited a report on retail sales in the world’s largest economy.

Holcim Ltd. posted the biggest advance on the benchmark Swiss Market Index. Gottex Fund Management Holdings Ltd. declined the most in a week.

The benchmark SMI climbed 0.3 percent to 7,447.73 at 9:55 a.m. in Zurich, posting its longest winning streak in more than two weeks. The gauge has rallied 6.1 percent this year as Transocean Ltd., the world’s largest offshore driller, and Credit Suisse Group AG, Switzerland’s second-biggest bank, both surged more than 20 percent. The broader Swiss Performance Index also added 0.3 percent today.

The volume of shares changing hands in SMI-listed companies was 34 percent lower than the average of the last 30 days, data compiled by Bloomberg showed.

In the U.S., President Barack Obama said he will pursue a trade agreement with the EU in last night’s State of the Union speech. Trade and investment between the U.S. and the 27 nations that make up the EU had a value of $4.5 trillion in 2011.

A report at 8:30 a.m. New York time may show that U.S. retailers increased their sales in January as the job market improved. Sales climbed 0.1 percent last month, according to the median forecast of 80 economists in a Bloomberg survey.

Holcim gained 2.7 percent to 72.10 Swiss francs as a gauge of construction companies posted the second-largest gain of the 19 industry groups in the Stoxx Europe 600 Index.

Gottex Fund Management declined 3.2 percent to 2.72 francs after saying it will suspend its share-buyback program. The company also said it has purchased 862,070 shares.

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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