Dec. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Swiss stocks rose to the highest level in five months after better-than-expected U.S. economic reports reinforced optimism that the world’s largest economy is recovering.
Health-care companies paced gains, with Roche Holding AG, the biggest maker of cancer drugs, adding 1.2 percent after the European Union approved its Avastin drug. Credit Suisse Group AG and UBS AG, Switzerland’s largest lenders, gained at least 1.3 percent as financial shares advanced.
The Swiss Market Index, a measure of the largest and most actively traded companies, added 1 percent to 5,893.89 at the close in Zurich. That’s the highest level since July 27. The gauge has rebounded 23 percent from this year’s low on Aug. 10 as policy makers intensified efforts to resolve the debt crisis. The wider Swiss Performance Index rose 0.9 percent today.
“Recent positive economic data out of the U.S. have helped revive the markets,” said Manish Singh, the London-based head of investment at Crossbridge Capital, which has more than $2 billion under management. “This could be a possible basis for a rally. Even if volume is thin, it’s good to finish on a positive note and set a positive tone for the new year.”
A Commerce Department report in Washington showed that demand for durable goods, those meant to last at least three years, rose 3.8 percent in November after a revised 0.5 percent decline the prior month. That topped the 2.2 percent median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg.
Another report from the Commerce Department showed consumer spending climbed less than forecast in November. Purchases rose 0.1 percent after increasing 0.1 percent in October. The median estimate for spending in a Bloomberg News survey of economists called for a 0.3 percent advance.
The volume of shares changing hands across Europe has fallen this week as the Christmas holiday break approaches. Trading on the Stoxx Europe 600 Index this week was more than 22 percent below the average for 2011, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Roche climbed 1.2 percent to 157.60 Swiss francs after it said its Avastin drug received European Union approval for the treatment of women with newly diagnosed, advanced ovarian cancer.
Sonova Holding AG, the hearing-aid maker, jumped 2.1 percent to 93.20 francs and Actelion Ltd., Switzerland’s largest biotechnology company, gained 1.9 percent to 32.13 francs. Nobel Biocare AG, the second-biggest maker of dental implants, climbed 2.9 percent to 10.73 francs.
Financial shares advanced as Credit Suisse and UBS gained 1.9 percent to 22.29 francs and 1.3 percent to 11.37 francs, respectively. Swiss Re Ltd., the world’s second-biggest reinsurer, jumped 2.8 percent to 47.70 francs.
Schmolz & Bickenbach AG, a steel producer, declined 2.7 percent to 5.50 francs after the company said Chairman Michael Storm resigned following the discovery that he had charged the company with personal expenses, causing an estimated shortfall of about 1.5 million euros ($1.96 million).
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