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Swiss Stocks Are Little Changed; Watchmakers Lead Gaining Shares

Dec. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Swiss stocks were little changed, after swinging between gains and losses, as euro-area lenders sought more funds from the European Central Bank than economists had predicted.

Swatch Group AG, the world’s largest watchmaker, gained 1 percent after Societe Generale SA recommended buying the shares. Holcim Ltd., the world’s second-biggest cement maker, dropped 1.7 percent.

The Swiss Market Index, a measure of the biggest and most actively traded companies, gained less than 0.1 percent to 5,804.77 at the close in Zurich, after fluctuating between an increase of 0.7 percent and a loss of 0.3 percent. The gauge has rebounded 21 percent from this year’s low on Aug. 10 as policy makers intensified their efforts to resolve the debt crisis. The broader Swiss Performance Index was also little changed today.

The Frankfurt-based ECB awarded 489 billion euros ($645 billion) in 1,134-day loans, more than median estimate of 293 billion euros by economists in a Bloomberg News survey. The ECB said 523 banks asked for the funds, which will be lent at the average of its benchmark rate -- currently 1 percent -- over the period of the loans. The ECB also lent banks $33 billion for 14 days in a regular dollar offering, up from $5.1 billion a week ago.

European Union leaders will hold a summit on Jan. 30 to discuss jobs and economic growth, EU President Herman Van Rompuy said.

Euro Support

Euro-area governments yesterday pledged to channel 150 billion euros to the International Monetary Fund. British wariness of the IMF program undermined the euro region’s goal of drawing an additional 50 billion euros from the rest of the EU.

The head of the world’s biggest bond fund said he sees a more than one-in-three chance that the euro area will break apart and trigger a financial crisis akin to the one that devastated the global economy in 2008.

“It would be the equivalent of a sudden stop” in which financial markets seized up, Mohamed El-Erian, chief executive officer of Pacific Investment Management Co. in Newport Beach, California, said. “It would be really, really messy.”

Swatch increased 1 percent to 341.40 francs. Societe Generale raised its recommendation on the stock to “buy” from “hold.” Cie. Financiere Richemont SA, the owner of the Cartier brand, advanced 1.4 percent to 46.98 francs.

Holcim declined 1.7 percent to 49.80 francs and Geberit AG, Europe’s biggest maker of toilet-flushing systems, lost 1.2 percent to 180 francs.

To contact the reporter on this story: Adria Cimino in Paris at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Rummer at

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