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Swiss Stocks Close Little Changed After Bernanke Report

Swiss Stocks closed little changed, paring earlier gains, as Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke refrained from discussing specific stimulus steps in his testimony to Congress, disappointing investors who speculated he’d hint at further quantitative-easing measures.

Lonza Group AG jumped the most in 10 months as Deutsche Bank AG upgraded its recommendation for the world’s biggest maker of drug ingredients. Kuehne & Nagel International AG climbed 3 percent. SGS SA, the largest industrial-inspection company, added 2.1 percent after reporting sales that beat estimates.

The Swiss Market Index rose 0.1 percent to 6,202.34 at the close of trading in Zurich, after earlier gaining as much as 0.5 percent. The measure has dropped 2.2 percent from its 2012 high on March 16 amid concern the euro-area debt crisis is hurting the economy. The broader Swiss Performance Index added 0.2 percent today.

“The market had as usual built up optimism in the hope of hearing Bernanke hint at further QE,” Lorne Baring, managing director at B Capital SA in Geneva, which oversees almost $500 million, said, referring to quantitative easing. “Overall it was a slight disappointment, as he produced a similar testimony to his previous ones and hope turned into dismay. Market participants are still analyzing his responses to the questions from the committee as to whether or not there was a hint in his statements.”

The volume of shares changing hands in companies listed on the SMI was 21 percent lower than the average of the last 30 days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Bernanke’s Testimony

Bernanke delivers his semi-annual report to the Congress today and tomorrow.

He said progress in reducing unemployment is likely to be “frustratingly slow” and repeated the Fed is ready to take further action to boost the recovery, while refraining from discussing specific steps.

“The U.S. economy has continued to recover, but economic activity appears to have decelerated somewhat during the first half of this year,” Bernanke said today in testimony for the Senate Banking Committee in Washington. The Fed is “prepared to take further action as appropriate to promote a stronger economic recovery.”

Industrial production in the U.S. increased in June, led by gains among automobile and machinery makers.

Output at factories, mines and utilities rose 0.4 percent last month after a revised 0.2 percent drop in May that was larger than previously reported, Federal Reserve data showed today in Washington. Economists forecast a 0.3 percent gain, according to the Bloomberg News survey median. Manufacturing, which makes up about 75 percent of total production, rose 0.7 percent last month, reversing the prior month’s decline.

Lonza Gains

Lonza jumped 5.5 percent to 44.64 Swiss francs, its largest advance since Sept. 15, as Deutsche Bank raised its recommendation on the shares to hold from sell.

Kuehne & Nagel climbed 3 percent to 105 francs after Chief Financial Officer Gerard van Kesteren told Boersen-Zeitung the company plans to grow its business faster than the market and forecast an 8 percent expansion in the sea freight market, less than an earlier prediction of 10 percent.

SGS added 2.1 percent to 1,863 francs after it reported first-half sales of 2.7 billion francs ($2.8 billion), beating analyst estimates for 2.6 billion francs. Net income rose to 245 million francs from 241 million francs a year earlier. SGS also said it sees an improved full-year performance.

Georg Fischer AG rose 3 percent to 324.25 francs. Europe’s biggest maker of iron castings for cars reported first-half sales of 1.87 billion francs, in line with analyst estimates.

Clariant Rises

Clariant AG advanced 1.2 percent to 10.47 francs after Chief Executive Officer Hariolf Kottmann told Financial Times Deutschland the takeover of Sued-Chemie AG is progressing faster than planned. He also said that about two-thirds of the 700 job cuts will be completed this year, with the rest by mid-2013.

Swatch Group AG, the world’s largest watchmaker, climbed 1.6 percent to 352.70 francs, and Cie. Financiere Richemont SA, the maker of Jaeger-LeCoultre watches, gained 2.7 percent to 50.75 francs.

Kardex AG increased 5.1 percent to 17.50 francs, the most since March 29, after the maker of automated shelving systems and conveyor belts reported first-half net income of 8.5 million euros ($10.5 million), after a 1.2 million-euro loss a year ago. Revenue climbed to 239 million euros from 221.5 million euros a year earlier.

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