Jan. 31 (Bloomberg) -- Stocks in Switzerland were little changed, as the Swiss Market Index completed the biggest January rally in at least 25 years, as better-than-estimated business activity in the U.S. offset an increase in jobless claims.
Roche Holding AG rose 1.4 percent after saying a drug met its target in the first stage of a trial. Swatch Group AG, the world’s biggest maker of Swiss watches, advanced 1.5 percent. Geberit AG declined 1.3 percent.
The SMI added less than 0.1 percent to 7,390.86 at the close in Zurich. The gauge has advanced 8.3 percent in January, the best start to the year since the SMI was formed in 1988, as the Swiss franc weakened against the euro and U.S. lawmakers agreed on a compromise budget. The broader Swiss Performance Index was also little changed today.
“The SMI’s performance in the first month of this year was quite impressive,” said Alessandro Fezzi, senior market analyst at LGT Bank Schweiz AG in Zurich. “The Chicago business barometer figure is definitely a positive surprise. Markets will await more important data on payrolls tomorrow.”
In the U.S., the MNI Chicago Report’s business barometer rose to 55.6 this month, the highest reading since April, after a reading of 50 in December. Economists on average had forecast 50.5. Levels above 50 indicate expansion.
Initial jobless claims rose by 38,000 in the week ended Jan. 26 to 368,000, the Labor Department reported today. Economists had forecast 350,000 filings, according to a Bloomberg survey.
Another report tomorrow may show U.S. employers added 165,000 workers to payrolls in January, after a 155,000 increase a month earlier, according to a Bloomberg survey of economists.
The volume of shares changing hands in SMI-listed companies was 7.7 percent higher than the average of the last 30 days, data compiled by Bloomberg showed.
The SMI may lose 5.4 percent in the next two weeks if it fails to break above the 7,518.47 level, according to Ouri Mimran, a technical strategist at Natixis in Paris. The resistance represents the 61.8 percent Fibonacci retracement of the decline from June 2007 through March 2009 during the financial crisis.
“The SMI is approaching a barrier that could hold in the coming sessions,” Mimran said. “A technical correction could take place. We’re targeting 6,990, which represents the April 2010 high. It’s also not far from the 50 percent retracement level of 6,891.”
Roche gained 1.4 percent to 201.40 francs after the drugmaker said its GA101 medicine combined with chemotherapy helped patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia live longer without their disease progressing, than with chemotherapy alone.
Swatch advanced 1.5 percent to 499.40 francs. Chinese retail partner Hengdeli Holdings Ltd. climbed in Hong Kong trading after saying in a statement its operations are “normal, healthy and stable.” Hengdeli and Swatch shares fell yesterday after Next magazine reported the Chinese company lost its exclusive distribution licenses for brands including Omega, Rado and Longines.
Geberit, a maker of toilets and bathroom piping systems, dropped 1.3 percent to 212.80 francs.
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