Swiss Stocks Advance, Led By Financials; Gategroup Shares Slide

Stocks in Switzerland rose to a four-week high, led by banks and insurers, as German factory orders climbed more than forecast.

Swiss Reinsurance Co., the world’s second-biggest reinsurer, jumped 3 percent. Credit Suisse Group AG and UBS AG, the nation’s largest banks, also gained. Gategroup Holding AG tumbled 7.2 percent as its chief executive officer resigned.

The Swiss Market Index of the biggest and most actively traded companies added 0.2 percent to 6,443.06 at the 5:30 p.m. close in Zurich, bringing its advance since March 16 to 7 percent. The broader Swiss Performance Index increased 0.1 percent to 5,876.73.

“We expect further upside potential for equities,” said Patrick Hasenboehler, analyst at Bank Sarasin & Co. Ltd. in Basel, Switzerland. “We are aware of numerous risk factors, but think these should be outweighed by still attractive valuations.”

European stocks climbed after the Economy Ministry in Berlin said that German factory orders, adjusted for seasonal swings and inflation, gained 2.4 percent from January, when they jumped 3.1 percent. Economists had forecast a 0.5 percent increase for February, according to a Bloomberg News survey. From a year earlier, orders climbed 20.1 percent.

A separate report today showed Swiss inflation accelerated more than economists forecast to the fastest pace in almost a year in March, led by surging energy costs. Consumer prices increased 1 percent from a year earlier after advancing 0.5 percent in February, the Federal Statistics Office in Neuchatel said. That’s the biggest gain since May 2010.

Swiss Re Gains

Swiss Re surged 3 percent to 56.25 Swiss francs, a second day of gains. Credit Suisse climbed 2.2 percent to 40.16 francs, its first increase in three days. UBS advanced 1.7 percent to 16.91 francs.

Gauges of European banks and insurers increased more than any other industry groups in the Stoxx Europe 600 Index.

Transocean Ltd., the owner of the drilling rig that exploded and sank in last year’s fatal Gulf of Mexico disaster, advanced 0.5 percent to 74.20 francs after earlier gaining as much as 2.7 percent. The company said top executives will donate to charity safety bonuses that drew criticism from U.S. Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar.

Gategroup, an airline catering supplier, plunged 7.2 percent to 45.90 francs. Chief Executive Officer Guy Dubois resigned yesterday, telling the company’s board of directors he takes responsibility for fraud carried out by a former employee. Andrew Gibson was named interim chief executive.

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