Swiss Stocks Decline; Actelion, Roche Shares Retreat in Zurich

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Swiss stocks fell as Moody’s Investors Service cut credit ratings on six European countries and U.S. retail sales rose less than forecast.

Actelion Ltd., the maker of the Tracleer lung treatment, sank the most in more than three months after saying profit this year is likely to be unchanged. Roche Holding AG, the world’s biggest maker of cancer drugs, slipped 1.2 percent.

The Swiss Market Index, a measure of Switzerland’s biggest and most actively traded companies, dropped 0.2 percent to 6,163.82 at the close in Zurich. The gauge has still advanced 3.8 percent this year as central banks moved to support lenders and stop credit markets from freezing. The broader Swiss Performance Index also slid 0.2 percent.

“The two major issues in Europe today that will prevent any sustainable rally as long as they remain are sovereign debts and an under-capitalized banking system,” Stephanie Kretz, an investment strategist at Lombard Odier in London, wrote in a report. “More liquidity has never turned deficits into surpluses, reduced debt levels or created growth.”

The U.K. and France may be stripped of their top Aaa ratings, Moody’s said late yesterday as it reduced the debt rankings of countries including Italy, Spain and Portugal on concern economic weakness may threaten austerity programs and reforms.

A Commerce Department release in Washington said sales at American retailers rose 0.4 percent last month, half the 0.8 percent median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

German Confidence

The SMI had earlier risen 0.1 percent after German investor confidence surged to a 10-month high. The ZEW Center for European Economic Research in Mannheim said its index of investor and analyst expectations, which aims to predict economic developments six months in advance, climbed to 5.4 this month from minus 21.6 in January.

Actelion declined 5.9 percent to 33.37 Swiss francs, the biggest drop since Oct. 20. The company forecast that profit this year will be unchanged as the economic crisis puts pressure on drug prices and it loses market share to Gilead Sciences Inc.

The Swiss drugmaker also said 120 people died in a clinical trial of more than 700 patients involving its experimental medicine macitentan. The drug is “very unlikely” to show a statistically significant benefit in extending the lives of patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension, though the company is confident the trial will show patients are helped by the product, Chief Executive Officer Jean-Paul Clozel said on a conference call.

Roche Retreats

Roche fell 1.2 percent to 162.20 francs. GlaxoSmithKline Plc’s Tyverb and Roche’s Herceptin shouldn’t be prescribed for a certain form of breast cancer because of a lack of evidence showing they extend life, the U.K.’s health-cost agency said.

While both medicines can reduce the growth and spread of the disease, the extent to which they can improve the overall survival of patients “appears to be small or undefined,” the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence said.

Roche shares were cut to “neutral” from “buy” at Citigroup Inc.

Orascom Development Holding AG rallied 6.5 percent to 15.50 francs. The builder of a ski resort in the Swiss village of Andermatt gained the most since September after saying the project is planned to open to guests in late 2013.

Lem Holding SA, a manufacturer of electrical components, rose 3.9 percent to 429 francs. The company said reported orders in the third-quarter climbed to 47 million francs ($51 million) from 31 million in the earlier quarter.

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