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Swiss Stocks Decline, Extending Weekly Drop; Roche Falls

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Feb. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Stocks in Switzerland fell, extending this week’s drop on the benchmark Swiss Market Index, as investors sold the shares of companies with profits less tied to economic growth.

Roche Holding AG and Novartis AG, which account for more than 32 percent of the gauge by weight, retreated at least 0.7 percent. UBS AG and Credit Suisse Group AG led advancing shares.

The SMI lost 0.3 percent to 6,184.13 at the close in Zurich. The measure dropped 0.9 percent this week. The broader Swiss Performance Index slid 0.1 percent today.

“The risk of a correction is very present as markets have gotten off to a strong start to the year, just like in 2011,” said Mikkel Kierkegaard Petersen, a senior equity adviser at Nordea Private Banking in Copenhagen. “This year has been a reverse of last year as cyclical shares have risen while defensives have been left behind.”

Stocks fell even as data showed that purchases of new homes in the U.S. exceeded forecasts in January after climbing a month earlier to a one-year high. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan final index of consumer sentiment for February rose to 75.3 from 75 at the end of last month. Economists projected a reading of 73 after a preliminary figure of 72.5, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey. The U.S. in the world’s largest economy.

Roche slid 0.7 percent to 159.30 francs and Novartis fell 1.3 percent to 51.50 francs.

UBS AG and Credit Suisse, the biggest Swiss banks, rose 0.8 percent to 12.88 francs and 1.7 percent to 24.92 francs. It’s time to own European investment banks, Bank of America Corp. said in a note today.

To contact the reporters on this story: Adam Haigh in London at ahaigh1@bloomberg.net; Peter Levring in Copenhagen at plevring1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Rummer at arummer@bloomberg.net

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