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Swiss Stocks Advance, Halting Five-Day Losing Streak

Swiss stocks rose, snapping five days of losses, after a measure of business confidence in Germany unexpectedly climbed and the U.S. Federal Reserve said accommodative monetary policy is needed to reduce unemployment.

Swatch Group AG, the biggest maker of Swiss watches, and Holcim Ltd., the world’s second-largest cement maker, led gains by shares sensitive to economic growth. Nestle SA rose 1 percent after ING Groep NV increased its price estimate.

The Swiss Market Index, a measure of Switzerland’s largest and most actively traded companies, added 0.7 percent to 6,283.26 at the close in Zurich. The number of shares changing hands on the index was 22 percent lower than the 30-day average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The gauge lost 1.6 percent last week for its biggest weekly decline in four months. The broader Swiss Performance Index also rose 0.7 percent today.

The SMI has climbed 5.9 percent this year as the European Central Bank lent the region’s financial institutions more than 1 trillion euros ($1.3 trillion) for three years and U.S. economic reports beat estimates.

The Munich-based Ifo institute said today that its business-climate index, based on a survey of 7,000 executives, increased to 109.8 in March from a revised 109.7 last month. Economists had forecast it would remain unchanged at the initial February reading of 109.6, according to the median of 44 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey.

In the U.S., Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said that the world’s largest economy needs further accommodative monetary policy to push the unemployment rate below 8.3 percent.

‘Help from Liquidity’

“That means we’re going to need help from liquidity to hold up the jobs market,” said John Plassard, director at Louis Capital Markets SA in Geneva. “The market is anticipating a third round of quantitative easing.”

U.S. economic reports this week may show that orders for durable goods in the world’s largest economy increased in February, while gauges of manufacturing in the Dallas and Richmond areas declined in March.

Swatch increased 1.6 percent to 426 Swiss francs and Holcim added 1.3 percent to 61.10 francs.

Nestle, the world’s biggest food company, climbed 1 percent to 56.95 francs. ING lifted its share-price estimate to 57 francs from 54.50 francs. The maker of KitKat chocolate bars and Perrier bottled water contributed the most to the benchmark Stoxx Europe 600 Index’s advance today.

Lifewatch AG advanced 6.7 percent to 8.43 francs. The maker of medical equipment used to monitor cardiac patients said it settled an investigation by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Justice.

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