Swiss Stocks Pare Gains as Holcim Slides; Richemont Rises

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Swiss Stocks Advance; UBS, Credit Suisse Lead the Gains
UBS AG and Credit Suisse Group AG, the country’s biggest banks, led gains. Actelion Ltd., Europe’s largest biotechnology company, increased 1.2 percent amid speculation about results of a drug trial. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Most Swiss stocks rose as most countries in the European Union agreed to tighter budget controls and Greece made progress on debt-swap talks.

Cie. Financiere Richemont SA, the world’s second-largest luxury goods maker, led gains as a gauge of Swiss consumer demand increased. Actelion Ltd. climbed 1.6 percent as a poll of analysts predicted that the biotechnology company’s most important treatment will probably meet the main goal of a study. Holcim Ltd. fell after Goldman Sachs Group Inc. advised selling shares of the cement maker.

The Swiss Market Index, a measure of the largest and most actively traded companies, slipped less than 0.1 percent to 5,970.49 at the close of trading in Zurich, as more than two stocks gained for each that declined. The gauge rose 0.6 percent this month. The broader Swiss Performance Index advanced 0.2 percent today.

“Political leaders are in agreement on budget controls, but there isn’t a lot that has changed,” said Guillaume Chaloin, a fund manager at Meeschaert Asset Management in Paris, which oversees $2.6 billion in assets. “We’re seeing a rebound in stocks, but I think it will be short term.”

EU leaders, meeting in Brussels yesterday, completed a fiscal-discipline treaty that speeds sanctions on high-deficit states and requires euro countries to anchor balanced-budget rules in national law. Eight nations outside the euro area backed the pact. The U.K. and the Czech Republic boycotted it.

The policy makers, meeting at the 16th summit in two years, also agreed to bring the region’s permanent bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism, into operation on July 1, a year ahead of schedule.

Greek Talks

Greece aims to complete debt-swap talks with bondholders this week. Prime Minister Lucas Papademos told reporters after the summit that he’s “strongly committed” to reaching a deal.

Swiss stocks pared their gains after a report showed sentiment among U.S. consumers unexpectedly dropped in January. The Conference Board’s confidence index fell to 61.1 from a revised 64.8 reading in December, figures from the New York-based private research group showed. The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a reading of 68.

Richemont added 1.6 percent to 52.10 Swiss francs, snapping two days of losses.

A gauge of Swiss consumer demand rose in December, suggesting the economy is stabilizing. The consumption indicator, which signals developments about three months ahead, advanced to 0.92 from a revised 0.78 in November, UBS AG said.

Actelion Advances

Actelion increased 1.6 percent to 35.25 francs. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News said the company’s lung treatment, macitentan, has a 63 percent chance of success in a drug trial in the second quarter.

Tornos Holding AG rose 3.2 percent to 9.60 francs. The manufacturer of machine tools reported annual sales of 271.1 million francs ($296 million) compared with 160.1 million francs a year earlier.

Holcim, the world’s second-largest cement maker, slipped 1.7 percent to 52.45 francs. The stock was cut to “sell” from “neutral” at Goldman Sachs.

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