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Swiss Stocks Rise as Greece Agrees on Austerity Package

Swiss stocks rose as Greek politicians agreed on an austerity package needed to obtain further financial aid, offsetting declines by Credit Suisse Group AG and Nobel Biocare Holding AG.

Syngenta AG, the largest maker of crop protection chemicals, climbed 1.6 percent after a report that world grain inventories dropped. Credit Suisse dropped 3.5 percent after posting its first quarterly loss in three years. Nobel Biocare, a dental-implant maker, plunged the most since April 2010 after forecasting disappointing sales and profit.

The Swiss Market Index, a measure of the largest and most actively traded companies, increased 0.2 percent to 6,169.63 at the close in Zurich. The benchmark gauge has advanced 3.9 percent this year as investors speculated that policy makers will contain the euro area’s sovereign-debt crisis. The broader Swiss Performance Index also added 0.2 percent today.

“Even if a deal was expected, it’s good news -- at least for the short term,” said Benjamin Ferrand, sales adviser at Louis Capital Markets SA in Geneva. “Investor sentiment could improve and investors might see that things are looking better for the euro area. However, we will still need to assess the evolution of the Greek economy as one can’t forget that this deal is set up with a lot of conditions.”

Greek Deal

The leaders of the three political parties in Greece’s government agreed to a package of austerity measures required to obtain 130 billion euros ($173 billion) of financial aid, according to a statement from the Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos’s press office.

“Discussions between the Greek government and the troika were successfully completed this morning,” the statement said. “Political leaders have agreed with the result of those negotiations. Therefore there is a general agreement in the context of the new program ahead of tonight’s Eurogroup meeting.”

Greece faces a 14.5 billion-euro bond payment on March 20 and must secure financing to avert a collapse of the economy that may lead to further contagion in the euro area.

European Central Bank policy makers meeting in Frankfurt left its benchmark interest rate at a record low of 1 percent, as predicted by 55 of 57 economists in a Bloomberg News survey.

Swiss consumer confidence rose for the first time in a year in January. An index based on a quarterly survey of about 1,100 households increased to minus 19 from minus 24 in October, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs in Bern said today. That’s the first increase since January 2011 and higher than the expected gain to minus 22, the median forecast of 11 economists in a Bloomberg News survey.

Syngenta, Basilea

Syngenta increased 1.6 percent to 296.40 Swiss francs as a U.S. Department of Agriculture report said global corn stockpiles will be smaller than estimated before the next Northern Hemisphere harvests after dry weather damaged crops in South America.

A gauge of chemical companies was the second-best performer of the 19 industry groups in the Stoxx Europe 600 Index.

Basilea Pharmaceutica AG jumped 4 percent to 49.50 francs after the drugmaker said its 2011 net loss reached 57.6 million francs ($63 million). Analysts had predicted a loss of 76.5 million francs.

Credit Suisse, Switzerland’s second-biggest bank, fell 3.5 percent to 24.35 francs. The company said it had a loss in the fourth quarter for the first time since 2008, hurt by “adverse markets” and costs to reorganize the investment bank.

The net loss amounted to 637 million francs, compared with the 446 million-franc average profit estimate of nine analysts.

Nobel Biocare Slides

Nobel Biocare slumped 16 percent to 10.50 francs as the world’s second-largest dental-implant maker posted fourth-quarter net income that missed analysts’ estimates.

The company is “cautious” about 2012 and expects low single-digit percent sales growth, probably between 2 percent and 4 percent, Chief Executive Officer Richard Laube said in a conference call with reporters today.

Straumann Holding AG, the biggest maker of dental implants, retreated 3.3 percent to 161.10 francs.

Petroplus Holdings AG dropped 8 percent to 92 centimes after saying its Ingolstadt refinery in Germany will reduce production from tomorrow and will halt operations within about two weeks.

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