March 11 (Bloomberg) -- Swiss stocks rose for a third day, with the benchmark Swiss Market Index extending a 4 1/2-year high, as better-than-forecast export growth in Germany outweighed a downgrade in Italy’s credit rating.
Givaudan SA led gains in the index. Belimo Holding AG rose 4.8 percent after it forecast continued growth in Europe. Actelion Ltd fell the most on the benchmark index. Kuehne & Nagel International AG dropped 1 percent after the shares were downgraded at Nomura Holdings Inc.
The SMI added 0.2 percent to 7,758.65 at the close of trading in Zurich, its highest level since May 2008. The SMI rallied 1.9 percent last week as the U.S. unemployment rate fell and speculation mounted that central banks around the world will continue to support economic recovery. The broader Swiss Performance Index rose 0.1 percent today.
The volume of shares changing hands in SMI-listed companies was 30 percent lower than the average of the last 30 days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
German exports rose more than economists forecast in January, data from the Federal Statistics Office in Wiesbaden showed. Exports, adjusted for working days and seasonal changes, advanced 1.4 percent from December, when they gained 0.2 percent. Economists in a Bloomberg survey had forecast a 0.5 increase.
Fitch Ratings downgraded Italy’s credit rating by one level to BBB+ with a negative outlook amid a political deadlock that threatens the country’s ability to respond to a recession and the debt crisis.
Givaudan, the world’s largest maker of flavorings and fragrances, advanced 0.9 percent to 1,175 francs.
Belimo Holding rose 4.8 percent to 2,096 francs after the Swiss maker of air conditioning machinery forecast continued growth in Europe, its biggest market.
Full-year net income rose 19 percent to 61.4 million francs as sales rose 6.9 percent to 444.6 million francs ($468 million), Belimo said. The company is proposing a dividend of 60 francs a share, an increase of 10 francs from a year earlier.
Nestle SA, the world’s largest food company which accounts for more than 23 percent of the SMI, added 0.5 percent to 67.65 francs.
Kuehne & Nagel, the world’s biggest sea-freight forwarder, dropped 1 percent to 104.50 francs. The stock was downgraded to neutral from buy at Nomura.
Actelion, the Swiss maker of the Tracleer lung drug, fell 0.8 percent to 50.55 francs, snapping a four-day rally.
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