Swiss Stocks Drop as China’s Growth Slows; ABB Retreats

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Swiss stocks fell, with the country’s equity benchmark posting its longest streak of weekly losses since November, as China’s economy slowed more than forecast and concern about the euro-region debt crisis gained.

ABB Ltd., the world’s biggest power-grid supplier, led a drop in shares sensitive to economic growth. Cie. Financiere Richemont SA, the second-largest maker of luxury goods, also retreated. UBS AG and Credit Suisse Group AG, the country’s two biggest banks, followed a gauge of European lenders lower.

The Swiss Market Index slipped 0.9 percent to 6,072.12 at the close in Zurich. The measure of Switzerland’s biggest and most actively traded companies sank 1.5 percent this week, its fourth straight decline. The gauge has still gained 2.3 percent in 2012 as the euro area sought to contain its debt crisis and as U.S. economic reports surpassed estimates. The broader Swiss Performance Index decreased 0.8 percent today.

“We remain in a cycle that began in 2007, marked by periods of strong rebounds followed closely by market corrections,” Francois Moute, chairman of Neuflize Private Assets in Paris, and Chief Executive Officer Olivia Giscard d’Estaing wrote in a note. “In our opinion, this means it’s best to remain cautious.”

The volume of shares changing hands in the SMI was 8.3 percent higher today than the average of the last 30 days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

ECB Bond Program

Swiss stocks extended their decline as European Central Bank Governing Council member Klaas Knot said that officials remain far from reviving their purchases of government bonds.

“I think that we are very far from that situation, the instrument hasn’t been used for some time, but it’s still there, I hope we never have to use it again,” Knot said at an event in Amsterdam today, when asked about the need for the ECB to buy government bonds.

The cost of insuring against a Spanish default jumped to a record as Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy struggles to prevent the nation from becoming the fourth euro-region member to need a bailout. Credit-default swaps on Spain rose 17 basis points to 498 as of 4 p.m. in London, surpassing the previous all-time high closing price of 493, according to CMA.

Growth in China’s economy, the world’s second biggest, slowed last quarter more than forecast to the weakest pace in almost three years. Gross domestic product rose 8.1 percent from a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics in Beijing said today. That was a slower rate than the 8.4 percent growth predicted in a Bloomberg News survey.

U.S. Economy

A report today showed that the cost of living in the U.S. increased at a slower pace in March. Consumer-price inflation climbed 0.3 percent, matching the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. The index increased 0.4 percent in February. A separate release showed that consumer sentiment fell to 75.7 in April from 76.2 at the end of last month, missing the average economist estimate.

ABB lost 1.8 percent to 17.89 Swiss francs. Holcim Ltd., the world’s second-largest cement maker, slid 2.3 percent to 56.25 francs.

Richemont, which generated 48 percent of its sales from Asia in its last financial year, decreased 2.3 percent to 55.60 francs. Swatch Group AG, the biggest maker of Swiss watches, slipped 1.7 percent to 419.70 francs. The watchmaker made 54 percent of its revenue in Asia last year.

UBS, Credit Suisse

UBS declined 2.4 percent to 11.52 francs. Credit Suisse lost 3.8 percent to 23.60 francs. Bank stocks retreated 3.1 percent for the biggest drop among the 19 industry groups in the Stoxx Europe 600 Index.

Flughafen Zuerich AG, operator of the Zurich Airport, slid 3.5 percent to 334.25 francs. Credit Suisse is placing 368,270 shares on behalf of CP2 Ltd., terms of the deal obtained by Bloomberg News show.

Newron Pharmaceuticals SpA, a biotechnology company, advanced 4 percent to 3.93 francs. Jefferies Group Inc. raised its share-price forecast to 4.30 francs from 3 francs.

Aryzta AG, the maker of specialty bakery products, added 2.1 percent to 44.05 francs. The stock was initiated with an outperform rating at CA Cheuvreux.

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