Switzerland Stocks Decline; SMI Loses 2.2% in April

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Swiss stocks declined, led by losses in banks and insurance companies, as a report showed business activity in the U.S. expanded slower than forecast.

Credit Suisse Group AG and Swiss Life Holding AG at least 1.5 percent. Actelion Ltd., the country’s largest biotechnology company, soared 14 percent as its experimental lung drug macitentan met the main goal of a late-stage clinical trial. OC Oerlikon Corp., a maker of textile machinery, climbed 5.2 percent after it said profits may rise more than projected.

The Swiss Market Index slipped 0.3 percent to 6,096.34 in Zurich. The measure fell 2.2 percent this month, the largest decline since August, amid disappointing economic reports and renewed concerns the euro area’s debt crisis may deepen. The gauge has still rallied 2.7 percent in 2012. The Swiss Performance Index lost 0.1 percent today.

“The stock markets are in a kind of conflict between good quarterly results of companies and economic data that tend to be worse than expected, especially in Europe,” said Peter Buergler, a trader at Luzerner Kantonalbank AG in Lucerne, Switzerland. “Investors are still reluctant to act and want more clarity amid continuing uncertainty.”

Voters are due to head to the polls on May 6 in Greece and France.

U.S. Business Activity

Data from the Institute for Supply Management-Chicago Inc. showed its U.S. business barometer fell to 56.2 in April, from 62.2 the prior month. Economists had called for a drop to 60, according to the survey median.

A Commerce Department report showed that household purchases, which account for about 70 percent of the economy, rose 0.3 percent in March after a revised 0.9 percent gain the prior month that was stronger than first reported. The median forecast of 62 economists in a Bloomberg News survey had called for a 0.4 percent increase.

In Europe, data today showed Spain’s economy, the fourth-biggest in the euro region, shrank less than forecast in the first quarter. Spanish gross domestic product fell 0.3 percent, the same as in the previous three months. That compares with the Bank of Spain’s estimate on April 23 of a 0.4 percent decline.

UBS AG and Credit Suisse dropped 1.8 percent to 11.33 francs and 2 percent to 21.71 francs, respectively. Swiss Life, the nation’s largest life insurer, lost 1.5 percent to 92.85 francs, while Baloise Holding AG slipped 1.3 percent to 70.25 francs.

Bucher Declines

Bucher Industries AG, the agricultural machinery maker, dropped as much as 2.8 percent to 175 francs before paring the losses in late afternoon trading. Fabian Haecki, an analyst at Vontobel Holding AG, cut the stock to hold from buy.

“We continue to regard Bucher as an attractive and well managed structural growth story, but earnings will probably reach a cyclical high this year,” Haecki wrote in a note to clients today.

Actelion surged 14 percent to 38.40 francs, the largest gain on record, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Its experimental lung drug macitentan met the main goal of a late-stage clinical trial, providing the company with a possible successor to a treatment that accounts for 89 percent of sales.

Bryan Garnier & Cie. raised the stock to buy from sell.

A gauge of health-care companies was the only industry among 19 groups in the Stoxx Europe 600 Index to rise today. Lonza Group AG, the world’s biggest maker of drug ingredients, climbed 1.1 percent to 40.93 francs. Roche Holding AG climbed 0.5 percent to 165.80 francs.

Oerlikon Profitability

Oerlikon rallied 5.2 percent to 8.97 francs, its highest since November 2009, after Chief Executive Officer Michael Buscher said he’s confident the company can further increase profitability compared to 2011.

“The bottom line and the top line can improve on our guidance,” Buscher said in an interview.

Earnings before interest and taxes in the first quarter rose 7 percent from a year earlier, excluding the one-time sale of property from the textiles unit, to 113 million francs ($124 million). Sales increased 6 percent from a year earlier to 961 million francs.

“The positive news from Actelion and Oerlikon are supporting the market today,” said Luzerner Kantonalbank’s Buergler.

Logitech International SA, the world’s biggest maker of computer mice, climbed 4.4 percent to 9.27 francs for its fourth day of gains and highest price since Oct. 27.