April 19 (Bloomberg) -- Stocks in Switzerland climbed, with the benchmark Swiss Market Index paring its weekly decline, as bank and luxury shares advanced and a Chinese government economist forecast growth will improve this year.
UBS AG and Credit Suisse Group AG, Switzerland’s largest lenders, each added at least 1 percent. Swatch Group AG, the biggest maker of Swiss watches, and Cie. Financiere Richemont SA, the owner of the Cartier brand, advanced. Transocean Ltd., the world’s largest supplier of off-shore oil rigs, posted the worst performance on the SMI. Inficon Holding AG retreated after reporting a decline in first-quarter sales.
The SMI added 0.5 percent to 7,618.76 at the close of trading in Zurich. The gauge posted a 1.8 percent drop this week amid worse-than-expected economic data from China and the U.S. The equity benchmark has still rallied 12 percent this year as U.S. lawmakers agreed on a compromise budget. The broader Swiss Performance Index rose 0.6 percent today.
“After the correction this week, a positive counter movement on the Swiss market is to be expected,” said Eric Bernhardt, chief investment officer at Umblin AG in Zurich. “Many investors have missed the rally and are still underweight stocks, which could speak for an upward movement. We’re positive on equities in the medium term as they remain fundamentally more attractive compared to bonds.”
The volume of shares changing hands in SMI-listed companies was 21 percent greater than the average of the last 30 days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Zhu Baoliang, head of the State Information Center’s economic forecast department, said the world’s second-biggest economy may improve in the second and third quarters of the year. China should stabilize money supply growth and loosen fiscal policy to boost growth, Zhu said at forum in Beijing. The center is a research institute under the National Development and Reform Commission, China’s top economic planner.
UBS and Credit Suisse rose 3.2 percent to 14.70 Swiss francs, and 1 percent to 25.53 francs, respectively.
Matt Spick, an analyst at Deutsche Bank AG, raised UBS to buy from hold, saying the first quarter may provide early validation of the bank’s new strategy. He expects the lender’s slimmed-down investment banking operations will beat expectations in the first quarter.
A gauge of banking stocks posted the best performance of the 19 industry groups on the Stoxx Europe 600 Index.
Swatch increased 0.8 percent to 518.50 francs and Richemont gained 1.5 percent to 69.15 francs. Luxury shares climbed as L’Oreal SA reported stronger first-quarter revenue in Asia, easing concern over emerging-market demand.
Schindler Holding AG advanced 2.8 percent to 134.10 francs. The maker of elevators and escalators confirmed targets of 6 percent sales growth in local currencies and net income of 740 million francs ($796 million) to 790 million francs this year even as it reported first-quarter sales that missed analyst projections.
Transocean declined 1.3 percent to 44.94 francs, posting the worst performance on the SMI. Billionaire investor Carl Icahn in a letter to shareholders said the company’s board should be replaced, and that it misstated its three-year and five-year stock performance.
Inficon fell 2.7 percent to 275 francs. First-quarter sales declined 10 percent to $72.6 million from a year earlier. The maker of products for semiconductor manufacturers forecast full-year sales of $280 million to $320 million, compared with $297 million in 2012.
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