Most Swiss stocks advanced, after two straight weeks of losses for the benchmark index, as ministers from the 17-member euro region met to discuss aid to Cyprus and Greece.
Zurich Insurance Group AG and Swiss Re Ltd., Switzerland’s largest insurer and reinsurer respectively, paced gains. Nestle SA, the world’s largest food company, climbed after Natixis recommended buying the shares. Gategroup Holding AG slumped the most since November 2011 after saying profit fell in 2012 and it won’t pay a dividend.
The Swiss Market Index advanced 0.2 percent to 7,407.6 at the close in Zurich, paring an earlier advance of as much as 0.5 percent. Thirteen shares on the gauge rose, while six fell. The number of shares changing hands on the index was 28 percent lower than the average of the past 30 days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The broader Swiss Performance Index added 0.1 percent.
“Market sentiment isn’t bad,” said Alessandro Fezzi, senior market analyst at LGT Bank Schweiz AG in Zurich. “In general, liquidity will be favorable. This won’t lead to insecurity in the market. This week, with China out and no major economic data, it will be hard to find direction.”
Euro-area finance ministers met in Brussels today as a tightening election contest in Italy and a political scandal in Spain threatened to revive concern about the region’s debt crisis. Group of 20 finance chiefs and central bankers will gather in Moscow on Feb. 15.
Zurich Insurance advanced 1.3 percent to 259 Swiss francs. Swiss Re climbed 1.4 percent to 71.35 francs, while Swiss Life Holding AG added 1.4 percent to 141.80 francs.
Nestle added 0.4 percent to 64.20 francs. Natixis raised its recommendation on the stock to buy from neutral.
Gategroup slumped 8.3 percent to 21.45 francs. The airline-catering company released provisional figures for 2012 showing full-year earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization fell to 170.8 million francs ($186 million), from 201.7 million francs in 2011. The company said it won’t propose a dividend.
Meyer Burger Technology AG, a solar-equipment maker, rallied 5.7 percent to 8.15 francs after Wacker Chemie AG boosted polysilicon output on growing solar demand.
Cie. Financiere Richemont SA, the owner of the Cartier brand, slid 1.3 percent to 73.40 francs for the biggest drop in the SMI.