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Swiss Stocks Rise; Weatherford, Schulthess Group Gain in Zurich

Most Swiss stocks advanced as oil fell for the first time in three days and even as Greek government bond yields climbed to the highest price since before the introduction of the euro.

Weatherford International Ltd., the owner of oil drilling rigs and mud pumps, surged 3.9 percent. Schulthess Group AG, the maker of washing machines and dryers, rose 7.8 percent after 2010 profit beat analysts’ estimates.

The Swiss Market Index of the biggest and most actively traded companies climbed 0.2 percent to 6,511.21 at the 5:30 p.m. close in Zurich. The gauge has added 1.2 percent this year. The broader Swiss Performance Index gained 0.3 percent today.

“We’re seeing the effects of the increase in oil prices, profit taking following the rally since September and the resurgence of fears of higher interest rates,” said John Plassard, director of Louis Capital Markets LP in Geneva. “Still, the Swiss market may outperform other European markets given its defensive composition.”

Oil fell for the first time in three days as speculation that fighting may subside in Libya eased concern that supply cuts will spread through the Middle East. Brent crude for delivery on April 11 has still increased more than 20 percent this year.

OPEC members are discussing whether to have an emergency meeting to decide on production increases, Kuwait’s oil minister said.

Greek Bond Yields

Stocks pared earlier gains as the yield on 10-year Greek government bonds climbed to the highest price since before the euro started in 1999. Moody’s Investors Service yesterday downgraded Greece’s government bond ratings to B1 from Ba1, and assigned a negative outlook to the rating.

U.S. treasury traders increased bets inflation will accelerate to the highest level since July 2008 as oil traded at almost a 29-month high. The yield difference between 10-year notes and Treasury Inflation Protected Securities, a gauge of trader expectations for consumer prices over the life of the securities, widened to as much as 2.55 percentage points, the most in 32 months.

In Germany, factory orders, adjusted for seasonal swings and inflation, climbed 2.9 percent in January from December, when they slid 3.6 percent, the Economy Ministry in Berlin said today. Economists had forecast a gain of 2.5 percent, the median of 35 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey shows.

Weatherford rose 3.9 percent to 19.95 francs as Dahlman Rose rated the shares new “buy” and as Wells Fargo upgraded the stock to “outperform” from “market perform.”

Schulthess, Charles Voegele

Schulthess rallied 7.8 percent to 49.95 francs, the highest price since January last year. The Wolfhausen, Switzerland-based company reported full-year net income of 18 million francs ($25 million), beating the 16.5 million franc consensus estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Schulthess forecast a year of “encouraging prospects.”

Charles Voegele Holding AG soared 6.4 percent to 61.70 francs after earlier surging as much as 10 percent. The retailer said full-year profit for 2010 was 18 million francs, compared with an estimate of 6 million francs of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News. Improving consumer sentiment in Germany and Switzerland bodes well for the company, according to Patrick Jnglin, analyst at Credit Suisse Group AG.

Arbonia-Forster Holding AG gained 3.5 percent to 37.15 francs. The maker of heaters, windows, doors and refrigeration systems said 2010 sales rose 2.1 percent to 1.4 billion francs and profit was 14.2 million francs. The company also appointed Daniel Frutig as Chief Executive Officer.

Temenos Group AG, the banking software maker, lost 2.1 percent to 35.30 francs.

“We believe Temenos faces several near-term challenges including a two year earnings headwind from increasing tax rates and a CEO transition,” Frederick Grieb, analyst at Credit Suisse Group AG, wrote in a note to clients today.

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