Swiss Stocks Rally to Highest Level Since May After Fed

Swiss stocks rallied to their highest level since May after the Federal Reserve unexpectedly refrained from slowing the pace of its monthly bond purchases.

Holcim Ltd. (HOLN) climbed 4 percent for the best performance on the Swiss Market Index. Swatch Group AG, the biggest maker of Swiss watches, and Cie. Financiere Richemont SA, the owner of the Cartier brand, gained more than 1.5 percent after a report showed Swiss watch exports rose in August. Syngenta AG (SYNN) added 1.5 percent after announcing a plan to increase the productivity of the world’s major crops by 20 percent.

The SMI (SMI) added 1 percent to 8,134.62 at 10:21 a.m. in Zurich. The broader Swiss Performance Index climbed 0.9 percent today. The volume of shares changing hands in SMI-listed companies was more than double the average of the last 30 days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The Fed yesterday refrained from reducing its $85 billion of monthly asset purchases, saying it needs to see more indications that the U.S. economy is improving sustainably. Of 64 economists surveyed by Bloomberg before the decision, 44 predicted that the central bank would start slowing its bond buying after concluding a two-day policy meeting yesterday.

Bernanke reiterated that any decision to slow the pace of asset purchases would depend on economic data, rather than a timetable. Policy makers repeated their guidance that the Fed’s target interest rate will remain low at least as long as unemployment exceeds 6.5 percent, and the outlook for inflation fails to climb above 2.5 percent.

“Conditions in the job market today are still far from what all of us would like to see,” Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said at a press conference in Washington after European markets closed. “The committee has concern that rapid tightening of financial conditions in recent months would have the effect of slowing growth.”

The SMI has gained 5.1 percent so far this month, extending its rally this year to 19 percent, as central banks pledged to leave interest rates low for a prolonged period.

To contact the reporter on this story: Inyoung Hwang in London at ihwang7@bloomberg.net

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

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