Swiss Stocks Rise for Second Day; UBS, Julius Baer Rise

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Swiss stocks climbed for a second day on signs of progress in U.S. budget talks and as a report showed German business confidence increased for a second month in December.

Julius Baer Group Ltd., the 121-year-old wealth manager, aided a rally in financial shares. Transocean Ltd. rose as Brent crude gained.

The benchmark Swiss Market Index added 0.5 percent to 6,946.07 at the close of trading in Zurich. The gauge has rallied 17 percent this year as the European Central Bank and the Federal Reserve expanded bond purchases. The broader Swiss Performance Index also advanced 0.5 percent today.

“It became clear to us a few weeks ago that the worries around the fiscal cliff and the worries around Greece were too big,” Alain Bokobza, head of strategy at Societe Generale in Paris, said in a Bloomberg Television interview. “That makes it somewhat of a bull market and it will continue.”

Stocks rose for the first time in four days yesterday as President Barack Obama softened his position on tax increases. That led to optimism U.S. lawmakers will agree on a compromise budget, preventing more than $600 billion of automatic tax increases and spending cuts -- known as the fiscal cliff -- from coming into force at the beginning of next year.

Tax Threshold

The U.S. House of Representatives may vote tomorrow on Speaker John Boehner’s “plan B,” which would raise tax rates on income over $1 million, rather than the $400,000 threshold the president proposed in his latest offer. The Obama administration and Democrats rejected the Boehner plan, released yesterday, as inadequate.

Greece had its credit rating raised by Standard & Poor’s following the country’s debt buyback. The ratings company cited the determination of euro-area governments to keep Greece in the 17-nation currency zone.

“The euro-zone breakup scenario is collapsing,” Bokobza said in a separate interview. “The U.S. is working on a good deal” for the budget, he added.

In Germany, the Ifo institute’s business climate index, based on a survey of 7,000 executives, climbed to 102.4 this month from 101.4 in November. That’s the second straight increase after sentiment dropped to a 2 1/2 year low in October. Economists predicted a gain to 102, according to the median forecast of 43 economists in a Bloomberg News survey.

Julius Baer

Julius Baer rallied 1.7 percent to 33.75 francs. Swiss Re Ltd., the world’s second-biggest reinsurer, added 1.9 percent to 67.15 francs.

Shares of banks and financial companies were among the best performers in the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, the region’s benchmark, today.

Transocean increased 0.8 percent to 42.35 francs. Brent crude rose for a second day in London.

Swatch Group AG, the biggest maker of Swiss timepieces, gained 1.4 percent to 466 francs. Credit Suisse Group AG reiterated it outperform rating, similar to buy, on the stock and raised its price target to 540 francs from 480 francs.

Syngenta AG, the world’s largest agrochemical company, rose 1.2 percent to 376.50 francs, climbing for a fourth day.

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