Stocks in Switzerland Snap Four-Day Drop; Helvetia Climbs

Swiss stocks advanced for the first time in five days, after the Swiss Market Index posted its biggest weekly loss in 21 months, as data showed a gauge of Chinese manufacturing rose to a 16-month high.

Helvetia Holding AG (HELN) gained 2.9 percent after Switzerland’s fourth-biggest insurer said first-half profit increased 15 percent, beating analysts’ estimates. Baloise Holding AG increased 2.9 percent after Berenberg Bank recommended buying the shares of the country’s third-largest insurer. UBS AG (UBSN) and Credit Suisse Group AG each advanced more than 2 percent.

The SMI (SMI) rose 1.3 percent to 7,843.37 at 9:24 a.m. in Zurich. At a loss of 3.3 percent last week, the measure wrapped its biggest retreat since November 2011 amid concern that any military action by the U.S. against Syria may escalate into a larger conflict. The SMI slid 1 percent in August, the second monthly retreat in 2013. The broader Swiss Performance Index gained 1.2 percent today.

The volume of shares changing hands in SMI-listed companies was 15 percent higher than the average of the last 30 days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

China’s manufacturing purchasing managers’ index, the official government measure of factory output, rose to 51 in August, beating the median economist estimate and rising from 50.3 in July. HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics issued the final reading of a separate private gauge today that confirmed initial figures showing the biggest jump in three years for China.

U.S. President Barack Obama said he will ask members of Congress to back his plan for a military strike on Syria. Congressional leaders have agreed to debate military action against the Middle Eastern country once lawmakers return from their recess on Sept. 9. Britain’s parliament last week rejected a proposed strike.

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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