March 7 (Bloomberg) -- Swiss stocks were little changed near their highest level in 4 1/2 years as central banks in the euro area and the U.K. maintained their monetary policy.
Cie. Financiere Richemont SA, Roche Holding AG and Actelion Ltd. led the equity benchmark higher. Nestle SA climbed 1.4 percent as Credit Suisse Group AG upgraded the world’s largest food company. Transocean Ltd. paced declining shares.
The Swiss Market Index rose 0.1 percent to 7,708.96 at the close in Zurich, after falling 0.3 percent yesterday. Earlier in the week, the gauge rallied to its highest level since May 2008 amid speculation that central banks around the world will continue monetary stimulus. The broader Swiss Performance Index climbed 0.6 percent today.
“Central bank day produced few surprises all round,” said Chris Beauchamp, a market analyst at IG in e-mailed comments. “There are still plenty of people keen to point out the problems with the global economy, but perhaps it is time to suggest that the central banks have put the backstop in and that it’s time to move on from the persistent negativity.”
The European Central Bank held its benchmark interest rate at 0.75 percent as President Mario Draghi repeated his view that the euro-area economy will gradually recover later this year. In London, the Bank of England kept its key interest rate at a record low and left its quantitative-easing target unchanged at 375 billion pounds ($564 billion).
The volume of shares changing hands in companies listed on the SMI was 20 percent lower from the average of the past 30 days, data compiled by Bloomberg showed.
Richemont, the world’s second-biggest luxury-goods company, added 1.8 percent to 77 Swiss francs. The stock fell 1.2 percent yesterday after the chief executive officer of rival watchmaker Swatch Group AG, Nick Hayek, sought to damp expectations about the industry’s growth. Swatch gained 0.6 percent to 535.50 francs today.
Roche gained 1.6 percent to 214 francs, climbing for the fifth time in six days. A patient study found that its top-selling drug Rituxan effectively cured most cases of a rare and deadly skin disease, suggesting the medicine may replace steroids as the standard treatment. The drugmaker traded without the right to its latest dividend today, removing 42.6 points from the SMI’s advance.
Actelion climbed 1.5 percent to 49.90 francs, its highest price since April 2011.
Nestle increased 1.4 percent to 67.05 francs as Credit Suisse raised its recommendation for the shares to outperform, the equivalent of a buy rating, from neutral.
Transocean dropped 1.2 percent to 50.40 francs after climbing 4.9 percent over the previous three days.
Panalpina Welttransport Holding AG dropped 5.7 percent to 86.80 francs, extending its decline over the past two days to 12 percent. The stock tumbled yesterday after posting a fourth-quarter loss and saying that conditions will remain difficult for the freight-forwarding company.
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