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Swiss Stocks Advance on Optimism Fed May Boost Stimulus

Aug. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Swiss stocks advanced to the highest in more than 14 months, as manufacturing in the New York region unexpectedly shrank, fueling speculation the Federal Reserve may boost stimulus measures.

Novartis AG contributed the most to the increase in the SMI. Nestle SA, which accounts for more than a fourth of the Swiss Market Index, slipped 0.3 percent after Chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe told Finanz & Wirtschaft the company has no plans to spin off its units. Holcim Ltd. dropped 1.2 percent after announcing a management shakeup.

The Swiss Market Index rose 0.1 percent to 6,511.87 at the close in Zurich, the highest since May 31, 2011. The measure has gained 14 percent from its 2012 low on June 4 as European Central Bank President Mario Draghi pledged to preserve the euro. The Swiss Performance Index was little changed today.

“The Empire State index, which was surprisingly bad, leads to expectations of further easing,” said Alessandro Fezzi, senior market analyst at LGT Capital Management AG in Pfaeffikon, Switzerland. “There’s a good chance the Fed will again loosen its monetary stance, and this is holding up equity markets.”

Manufacturing in the New York area unexpectedly contracted in August for the first time since October, a report showed today. The Empire State gauge fell to minus 5.9 from 7.4 in July, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York said. The median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a reading of 7.

U.S. Industry

Another report from the Federal Reserve showed industrial production in the U.S. increased 0.6 percent, following a revised 0.1 percent gain in June that was smaller than previously reported. Economists forecast a 0.5 percent rise, according to the Bloomberg survey median.

Novartis, Europe’s largest drugmaker, advanced 1.4 percent to 58.65 Swiss francs. A gauge of health-care stocks was the best-performing group on the Stoxx Europe 600 Index today.

Nestle slipped 0.3 percent to 60.60 francs. Brabeck-Letmathe told Finanz & Wirtschaft the company will neither consider splitting itself up nor list its Nespresso coffee business on the stock market.

Holcim lost 1.2 percent to 59.30 francs. The cement maker said today it will introduce a “leaner and more efficient structure” as of Sept. 1. As part of the changes, three managers will leave the executive committee and Urs Bleisch will head a cost-cutting initiative, the company said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Namitha Jagadeesh in London at njagadeesh@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Rummer at arummer@bloomberg.net

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