Swiss Stocks Rise on U.S. Factory Reports; Clariant Gains

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Swiss stocks climbed, extending a nine-month high, after the International Monetary Fund approved a loan for Greece and reports showed that jobless claims declined and manufacturing expanded in the U.S.

Clariant AG, the world’s biggest maker of printing-ink chemicals, increased 3.5 percent, following chemical shares higher. Vontobel Holding AG, the Swiss bank that specializes in derivatives, advanced 1.5 percent. Temenos Group AG jumped 5 percent after the banking-software maker announced its forecast for 2012 and Bankhaus Metzler advised buying the stock.

The Swiss Market Index rose 0.5 percent to 6,332.22 at the close in Zurich, its highest level since June 6. The gauge has rallied 6.7 percent this year after the European Central Bank disbursed more than 1 trillion euros ($1.3 trillion) to the region’s lenders. The broader Swiss Performance Index also increased 0.5 percent today.

“The European crisis is far from over, but for now, the relative economic outperformance in the U.S. takes center stage for investors and leads to optimism in the markets,” said Nils Rosendahl, an analyst at Nordea Markets in Stockholm.

The number of shares changing hands on the SMI was 12 percent lower than the 30-day average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The SMI extended gains after the IMF approved a 28 billion-euro loan for Greece as part of a second bailout organized by the European Commission and the European Central Bank. The IMF will make 1.65 billion euros available immediately as a four-year loan.

U.S. Jobless Claims

In the U.S., a Labor Department report showed that the number of Americans applying for jobless benefits fell to 351,000 last week, from a revised 365,000 a week earlier. Economists had forecast 357,000, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s general economic gauge, the so-called Empire State index, unexpectedly increased to 20.2 in March from 19.5 in February. A measure of manufacturing in the Philadelphia area climbed to 12.5 last month, exceeding the average analyst estimate for a reading of 12 in a survey compiled by Bloomberg News.

The Swiss government raised its economic growth forecast for this year and said the country will not enter a recession. Switzerland’s gross domestic product will increase 0.8 percent this year instead of a previously projected 0.5 percent, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs in Bern said today. In 2013, the economy may expand 1.8 percent, down from a December forecast of 1.9 percent.

Swiss National Bank

Switzerland’s central bank maintained the Swiss currency’s ceiling at 1.20 francs per euro as the economy showed signs of stabilization. The Swiss National Bank also kept its benchmark interest rate at zero.

Clariant increased 3.5 percent to 12.94 Swiss francs as a gauge of European chemical companies advanced. Vontobel climbed

1.5 percent to 24.40 francs.

Temenos jumped 5 percent to 15.80 francs after the banking-software maker predicted revenue of $450 million to $500 million and adjusted earnings before interest and taxes of $85 million to $110 million in 2012.

Ulrich Trabert, an analyst at Bankhaus Metzler, raised the stock to buy from sell.

UBS, Credit Suisse

UBS AG and Credit Suisse AG, Switzerland’s two biggest lenders, advanced 1.3 percent to 13.19 Swiss francs and 1.9 percent to 26.81 francs, respectively.

Bucher Industries AG, the agricultural machinery maker, added 1 percent to 197.80 francs after it said full-year profit jumped 30 percent to 127 million francs ($138 million). Bucher also proposed a dividend of 4 francs, topping the Bloomberg forecast for a payout of 3.80 francs.

“In our view, Bucher remains one of the very few attractive European names available for investors to play the longer-term agricultural equipment growth story,” Stefan Gaechter, an analyst at Helvea AG, wrote in a note to clients today. “We see more upside than downside to our estimates.”

Dufry Group AG rallied 3.4 percent to 118.90 francs, its highest price since January 2011, after Helvea analyst Michael Heider raised his price estimate for the operator of duty-free shops to 140 francs from 130 francs.

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