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Swiss Stocks Are Little Changed; Syngenta Rises as Swatch Falls

Jan. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Swiss stocks swung between gains and losses as expectations of a New Year rally in equities were tempered by worse-than-expected German employment data.

Syngenta AG, the world’s biggest maker of agricultural chemicals, added 3.5 percent, while Swatch Group AG, the maker of Breguet and Omega watches, dropped 3.1 percent.

The Swiss Market Index of the biggest and most actively traded companies rose less than 0.1 percent to 6,494.31 at the 5:30 p.m. close of trading in Zurich. The gauge has not erased last year’s decline even amid optimism that the global economic recovery will continue in 2011. The broader Swiss Performance Index also added less than 0.1 percent to 5,844.27.

“Investors don’t want to miss out on what you could call a New Year rally,” said John Plassard, Geneva-based head of European equities at Louis Capital Markets LP. Still, “several problems remain including sovereign debts, lack of growth in Europe, movements in the euro and an increase in unemployment,” he said.

The Swiss franc weakened as risk appetite for stocks rose, sapping demand for the currency as a perceived refuge. The franc fell 1.3 percent to 1.2627 per euro at 5:45 p.m.

The number of people out of work in Germany last month rose a seasonally adjusted 3,000 to 3.15 million, the Nuremberg-based Federal Labor Agency said today. Economists had forecast a decrease of 15,000, according to the median of 21 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey. The adjusted jobless rate was unchanged at 7.5 percent.

Syngenta, Credit Suisse

Syngenta advanced 3.5 percent to 284.30 francs, erasing last week’s loss. Credit Suisse Group AG, Switzerland’s second-largest bank, rose 3.1 percent to 39.25 francs, its biggest gain since Sept. 3.

Swissquote Group Holding AG, Switzerland’s largest online broker, surged 5.9 percent to 59.30 francs.

Swatch posted the SMI’s biggest drop, declining 3.1 percent to 404.60 francs. Nestle SA, which accounts for one quarter of the index’s weighting, slipped 1.4 percent to 54.50 francs.

To contact the reporter on this story: Giles Broom in Zurich at gbroom@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David Merritt at dmerritt1@bloomberg.net

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