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Swiss Stocks Advance; Nestle, Oerlikon Gain as Komax Declines

March 23 (Bloomberg) -- Swiss stocks climbed before a budget vote in Portugal that may trigger a European Union bailout for the indebted country.

Nestle SA gained 1.8 percent, the largest increase on the benchmark Swiss Market Index, as Tokyo authorities said that babies shouldn’t drink the city’s tap water following leaks of radioactive vapor from a nuclear power plant in northern Japan. OC Oerlikon Corp. rallied 12 percent after returning to profit for the first time in three years.

The SMI rose 0.5 percent to 6,256.06 at the 5:30 p.m. close in Zurich. The gauge has declined 6.9 percent since its highest level so far this year on Feb. 18 as rebels fought Muammar Qaddafi’s military in Libya and a magnitude-9 earthquake struck Japan. The broader Swiss Performance Index also added 0.5 percent to 5,690.02.

“Sovereign stress is back on the table thanks to the political debate in Portugal,” said John Plassard, director of Louis Capital Markets in Geneva. “Nestle’s gains propped up the SMI today.”

Portuguese lawmakers began debating their government’s so-called stability and growth program of austerity measures in Lisbon. The opposition Social Democratic and Communist parties both pledged yesterday to table resolutions against the plan.

Nestle, maker of the world’s largest bottled water brand Pure Life, rose 1.8 percent to 51.35 Swiss francs. Tokyo authorities found that tap water at a treatment facility in Katsushika ward had double the level of radioactive iodine recommended as the limit for babies, a city official said in a televised briefing today. The water poses a health risk if drunk over the long term, such as a year, he said. Tokyo has a population of about 13 million people.

OC Oerlikon Jumps

OC Oerlikon surged 12 percent to 7.09 francs after reporting 2010 net income of 5 million francs ($5.51 million), compared with a loss of 592 million francs in 2009. Oerlikon forecast that sales will climb as much as 10 percent in 2011.

Comet Holding AG gained 1.7 percent to 209.50 francs after reporting 2010 sales of 217.4 million francs and a climb in its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization margin to 13 percent.

Komax Holding AG slumped 2.9 percent to 106 francs after Vontobel Holding AG cut its rating on the maker of wire-processing machines to “hold” from “buy.” Earnings will “remain poor” at the company’s solar and medical technology units, Fabian Haecki, an analyst at Vontobel wrote today.

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

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

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