April 19 (Bloomberg) -- Swiss stocks gained for the third time in four days as Nestle SA and Roche Holding AG advanced, outweighing a report that showed more Americans than forecast made initial jobless claims last week.
Nestle SA, the world’s biggest food company, rallied to its highest price since at least 1989. Roche Holding AG, the world’s largest maker of cancer drugs, climbed 0.9 percent after a study showed positive results for its hepatitis C treatment. Actelion Ltd. jumped 2.3 percent as the drugmaker raised its forecasts.
The Swiss Market Index rose 0.5 percent to 6,203.78 at the close in Zurich. The gauge has rallied 4.5 percent in 2012 as the euro area’s leaders sought to contain the region’s debt crisis and as U.S. economic reports surpassed estimates. The broader Swiss Performance Index also added 0.5 percent today.
The combined volume of shares changing hands on SMI-listed companies was 21 percent higher than the average of the last 30 days, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
A U.S. Labor Department report showed jobless claims fell to 386,000 in the week ended April 14 from a revised 388,000 the prior period. The median forecast of 47 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News called for a drop to 370,000.
A separate report showed sales of previously owned houses unexpectedly fell in March. Purchases dropped 2.6 percent to a 4.48 million annual rate from 4.6 million in February, missing the median forecast of 4.61 million.
Spanish Bond Sale
Spain sold 2.54 billion euros ($3.3 billion) of two-year and 10-year bonds at an auction today. The Mediterranean country had set a maximum target of 2.5 billion euros.
France issued 8 billion euros of debt as risks linked to the country’s presidential election drove up yields. Agence France Tresor, the country’s debt-management body, auctioned 2.7 billion euros of benchmark five-year debt at an average yield of 1.83 percent, compared with 1.78 percent on March 15.
Nestle advanced 1 percent to 57.20 Swiss francs, contributing the most to the SMI’s gain. The company is in the “pole position” to buy Pfizer Inc.’s nutrition unit Wyeth Baby, which offers growth opportunities and a chance to regain a “firm foothold” in China, Jefferies Inc. said today.
Roche climbed 0.9 percent to 164.40 francs. The company said a study showed high rates of sustained viral clearance for Danoprevir and that the treatment is “potent and well-tolerated.”
Actelion jumped 2.3 percent to 32.95 francs as Switzerland’s biggest biotechnology company said sales may drop less than forecast this year after it raised the price of its lung medicine Traclear in the U.S. Product sales will decline by a low-single-digit percentage in local currencies in 2012, compared with a previous forecast for a low-to mid-single-digit decrease.
Schindler Holding AG rose 0.9 percent to 114.80 francs after the maker of escalators said first-quarter revenue was 1.9 billion francs ($2.1 billion), beating the average analyst estimate for 1.87 billion francs.
Syngenta AG, the world’s biggest supplier of agricultural chemicals, increased 1.5 percent to 320 francs after Jean De Watteville, an analyst at Nomura Holdings Inc., said it remains the “most attractive defensive stock” and that he expects an improvement for the rest of the year.
Inficon Holding AG gained 2.6 percent to 221.50 francs, its highest price since July 2007. The maker of products for semiconductor manufacturers reported first-quarter sales of $80.7 million, up 15 percent from the fourth quarter. The company also raised its full-year revenue outlook to $280 million to $310 million.
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