Swiss Stocks Snap Three-Day Decline; Transocean Rises

Swiss stocks rose as euro-area finance ministers agreed on the size of the region’s rescue funds and a report showed that consumer spending in the world’s largest economy climbed the most in seven months.

Transocean Ltd. advanced with crude oil. Meyer Burger Technology AG, the biggest maker of solar-panel manufacturing equipment, gained 1 percent. Givaudan SA, the world’s largest maker of flavors and fragrances, added 1 percent after Jefferies Group Inc. recommended buying the company’s shares.

The Swiss Market Index, a measure of the largest and most actively traded companies, climbed 1 percent to 6,235.51 at the close in Zurich, snapping three days of losses. The benchmark gauge has gained 5 percent this year as the European Central Bank disbursed 1 trillion euros ($1.3 trillion) to the region’s lenders. The SMI slipped 0.1 percent this week. The broader Swiss Performance Index rose 1 percent today.

“A bigger rescue fund will gain time and air, even though the basic problem still remains with the lack of competitiveness of southern European economies,” said Christian Zogg, who manages about $540 million at LLB Asset Management in Vaduz, Liechtenstein.

The SMI fell for the past three days as more Americans filed claims for jobless benefits than economists had estimated and a report from the Conference Board showed a drop in U.S. consumer confidence in March.

The volume of shares changing hands in SMI-listed companies was 5.5 percent less than the average over the past 30 days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Euro-Area Firewall

Euro-area finance ministers, meeting in Copenhagen today, set the maximum lending capacity of the proposed European Stability Mechanism at 500 billion euros and the combined lending limit of the ESM and the temporary fund -- the European Financial Stability Facility -- at 700 billion euros.

In addition to the 102 billion euros already paid to support current rescue programs, the new limit takes the total size of the firewall to 800 billion euros, the Eurogroup said in a statement.

“Robust firewalls have been established,” the ministers said in the statement. “This comprehensive strategy has paid off and led to a significant improvement in market conditions.”

U.S. Consumer Spending

In the U.S., a report showed that consumer purchases rose 0.8 percent in February, their biggest advance since July. Economists had called for a 0.6 percent increase, according to the median estimate of 83 economists in a Bloomberg News survey.

“What’s also pleasing is that the previous months have been revised upwards, hence the entire consumption path turns out higher,” Viola Stork, an analyst at Helaba Landesbank Hessen-Thueringen, wrote in e-mailed comments. “It results in an indication for moderate consumption growth in the first quarter of this year.”

In Europe, French consumer spending rose for the first time in four months in February. Consumption climbed 3 percent from January, the national statistics office, Insee, said. Economists had predicted an increase of 0.2 percent, according to the median of 20 estimates gathered by Bloomberg News.

Transocean increased 2.9 percent to 48.25 Swiss francs as crude oil advanced in New York, rebounding from yesterday’s decline, which was the biggest this year.

Meyer Burger gained 1 percent to 14.75 francs as HSBC Holdings Plc raised the stock to neutral, the equivalent of hold, from underweight.

Givaudan added 1 percent to 870 francs as Simon Marshall-Lockyer, an analyst at Jefferies, raised the stock to buy from hold.

Nobel Biocare AG, the second-biggest maker of dental implants by sales, climbed 2.1 percent to 11.29 francs for its second day of gains.

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