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Swiss Stocks Climb, Extend 4 1/2-Year High on U.S. Data

Swiss stocks rose, with the benchmark index extending a 4 1/2-year high and completing its fourth weekly rally, as U.S. unemployment rate fell and data signaled economic gains in Asia.

Credit Suisse Group AG, Switzerland’s second-largest bank, led the advance after UBS AG recommended the shares. Schmolz & Bickenbach AG surged the most in six weeks after amending credit agreements with banks for 930 million euros ($1.2 billion). Gategroup Holding AG jumped 2.9 percent after winning a five-year catering order from Spanish airline Iberia.

The Swiss Market Index added 0.5 percent to 7,744.84 at the close of trading, its highest level since May 2008. The gauge rallied 1.9 percent this week, the biggest increase since Jan. 18, amid speculation that central banks around the world will continue to support economic recovery. The broader Swiss Performance Index rose 0.4 percent today.

“We like the state of global recovery which is quite broadly based, and it’s keeping us fully invested as we see it broadening out,” Colin McLean, co-founder of Edinburgh-based SVM Asset Management, told Francine Lacqua on Bloomberg Television. His firm oversees the equivalent of $747 million. “In Europe, markets are certainly getting better.”

U.S. payrolls increased 236,000 in February after a revised 119,000 gain the previous month, Labor Department figures showed in Washington. The median forecast of 90 economists surveyed by Bloomberg projected an advance of 165,000. The jobless rate dropped to 7.7 percent from 7.9 percent.

Asian Economy

In Japan, gross domestic product rose an annualized 0.2 percent in the fourth quarter, the Cabinet Office said in Tokyo. That surpassed a preliminary calculation of a 0.4 percent contraction. In China, exports gained 21.8 percent in February from a year earlier, the customs administration said. That beat the 8.1 percent median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey.

Credit Suisse advanced 3.9 percent to 25.97 Swiss francs. UBS raised its recommendation on the stock to buy from neutral, with analysts led by Daniele Brupbacher saying the lender may soon be able to pay a cash dividend.

Schmolz & Bickenbach, the supplier of steel to carmakers, rose 9.4 percent to 2.56 francs. The company said it completed negotiations with banks to amend credit agreements due in March and April 2015.

The company sought to preserve its financial health after slowing steel demand in Europe put pressure on its balance sheet. Handelsblatt reported in January the company may be sold, prompting Schmolz Chairman Hans-Peter Zehnder to say he had no information on possible takeover attempts.

Gategroup Order

Gategroup, which provides catering services to airlines, increased 2.9 percent to 19.70 francs. The Kloten, Switzerland-based company said it won a new 425 million-franc contract ($446 million) from Iberia and its subsidiary Iberia Express. The new order will take effect when the current agreement ends in 2015.

Coltene Holding AG jumped 13 percent to 41 francs, its biggest rally since February 2009. Profit rose to 9.53 million francs in 2012, from 5.66 million francs the previous year, the dental-products company reported today.

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