Swiss stocks declined the most in more than three weeks after a report showed German manufacturing unexpectedly contracted in March.
Cie. Financiere Richemont SA slid to the lowest price this year as Swiss watch exports declined in February. Adecco SA fell the most since Nov. 7 after S&P Capital IQ Inc. recommended selling shares in the recruitment company.
The Swiss Market Index slipped 1.1 percent to 7,762.3 at the close of trading in Zurich, its biggest slide since Feb. 26. The benchmark gauge has retreated 1.3 percent so far this week, on course for the first loss in six weeks and the biggest drop since Nov. 16. The SMI has still climbed 14 percent this year. The broader Swiss Performance Index lost 1 percent today.
“German economic data is the lung of the European economy,” said Yves Marcais, an equity sales trader at Global Equities in Paris. “When things there slow, it weighs on confidence.”
A German index based on a survey of purchasing managers in manufacturing declined to 48.9 this month from 50.3 in February, while a services gauge fell to 51.6 from 54.7, Markit Economics said. Economists in Bloomberg surveys had forecast a reading of 50.5 for manufacturing and 55.0 for services. A figure below 50 indicates contraction.
The volume of shares changing hands in companies on the SMI was 9.2 percent lower than the average of the past 30 days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Euro-area services and manufacturing output contracted more than economists estimated in March, another report showed. A composite index based on a survey of purchasing managers in both industries fell to 46.5 from 47.9 in February, Markit said. Economists had forecast a reading of 48.2, according to the median of 23 estimates in a Bloomberg survey.
In Cyprus, President Nicos Anastasiades met advisers to draft a new plan to avoid a financial collapse after lawmakers rejected a bank-deposit levy. The government’s alternative plan may include a new version of the deposit tax, an official said after a Cabinet meeting yesterday.
The European Central Bank said it will cut Cypriot banks off from emergency funds after March 25 unless the Mediterranean island agrees on a bailout with international creditors.
Richemont, the owner of the Cartier brand, slid 4.5 percent to 73 Swiss francs, the lowest price since Dec. 28. Swatch Group AG, the biggest maker of Swiss timepieces, lost 3 percent to 527.00 francs. Swiss watch exports fell 2.5 percent in nominal terms in February from a year ago, the Federal Customs Offices said.
Adecco, the world’s biggest supplier of temporary workers, retreated 2.7 percent to 53.45 francs. S&P Capital IQ cut its recommendation on the stock to sell from hold, citing weak European labor markets.
Rieter Holding AG tumbled 8.7 percent to 171.40 francs, the biggest drop since Oct. 31, after the maker of textile machinery forecast 2013 sales and earnings at last year’s level.
Holcim Ltd., the world’s largest cement maker, lost 1.7 percent to 76.45 francs, following European construction shares lower.