March 26 (Bloomberg) -- Stocks in Switzerland advanced amid better-than-forecast reports on U.S. durable-goods orders and house prices and as Cie. Financiere Richemont SA and Swatch Group AG increased.
Richemont, the owner of the Cartier brand, and Swatch, the largest maker of Swiss watches, advanced more than 2 percent. Novartis AG rose 1.1 percent, contributing the most to the benchmark index’s gain. Financial shares climbed, with Credit Suisse Group AG and Swiss Life Holding AG rising.
The Swiss Market Index gained 0.5 percent to 7,800.05 at the close of trading in Zurich, after earlier slipping as much as 0.2 percent. The gauge retreated 1.5 percent last week, its 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 also rose 0.5 percent today.
“The economic data out of the U.S. was somewhat lackluster,” said Andreas Nigg, head of equity and commodity strategy at Vontobel Asset Management in Zurich. “Perhaps we are seeing some first signs that the sequester is impacting the economy. But at the same time, that means any discussion on quantitative easing exiting will remain on the back burner. The home prices report was very positive news for U.S. households.”
Swiss stocks rose yesterday as Cyprus and euro-area finance ministers agreed on a rescue package, dodging the risk of a default and an exit from the currency union.
The volume of shares changing hands in companies on the SMI was 15 percent lower than the average of the past 30 days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
In the U.S., a Commerce Department report showed that orders for durable goods climbed more than forecast in February. Bookings for goods meant to last at least three years rose 5.7 percent, the most since September, after a 3.8 percent drop the prior month. The median forecast of 80 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 3.9 percent advance.
The S&P/Case-Shiller index of property values in 20 cities climbed 8.1 percent in January from the same month in 2012 after rising 6.8 percent in the year ended in December, the group said today in New York. The increase exceeded the 7.9 percent median forecast by economists in a Bloomberg survey.
Separate data showed that sales of new houses in February capped the best back-to-back months in more than four years. Purchases of newly built homes fell 4.6 percent to a 411,000 annualized pace, following a 431,000 rate in the prior month that was lower than previously estimated, the Commerce Department reported today in Washington. The median estimate of 78 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a decrease to 420,000. It was the best two-month showing since August and September 2008.
Richemont gained 2.3 percent to 75.25 Swiss francs and Swatch rose 2.3 percent to 543 francs.
Novartis added 1.1 percent to 67.40 francs, contributing the most to the SMI’s advance.
Credit Suisse, Switzerland’s second-biggest bank, increased 1.5 percent to 25.33 francs, while Swiss Life, Switzerland’s largest life insurer, rose 0.7 percent to 143.30 francs.
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