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Swiss Stocks Little Changed as Investors Weigh U.S. Data

Stocks in Switzerland were little changed, with the benchmark Swiss Market Index falling for a fourth consecutive week, as investors weighed U.S. economic data amid concern that central banks may pare stimulus measures.

Cie. Financiere Richemont SA, the owner of the Cartier brand, advanced 2 percent for the best performance on the benchmark gauge. UBS AG and Julius Baer Group Ltd. rose. Holcim Ltd. dropped after the world’s largest cement maker by sales said it sold its New Caledonia plant to Tokuyama Corp. for an undisclosed price.

The SMI added 0.1 percent to 7,635.96 at the close of trading in Zurich. The equity benchmark fell 1.9 percent this week, for its longest stretch of losses in 13 months, and has pared this year’s advance to 12 percent amid concern that the Federal Reserve will start to taper its bond-purchase program in September. The broader Swiss Performance Index also gained 0.1 percent today.

“The U.S. economy is progressing, but not to the extent that it would justify a sudden change of the U.S. central bank,” Peter Buergler, a trader at Luzerner Kantonalbank AG in Lucerne, Switzerland, wrote in a report today.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke will deliver his semi-annual monetary policy report to Congress on July 17 and 18. The Fed will hold its two-day policy meeting next week, with Bernanke scheduled to speak after the central bank’s decision on June 19.

U.S. Economy

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan June preliminary index of consumer sentiment fell to 82.7 from a final reading of 84.5 the prior month, missing economist forecasts, a report showed today.

Other reports showed U.S. industrial production was unchanged in May and wholesale prices climbed in May for the first time in three months.

Richemont advanced 2 percent to 83.10 Swiss francs, posting the best performance on the SMI today.

UBS added 1.2 percent to 16.48 francs. Julius Baer gained 1 percent to 36.81 francs.

Holcim dropped 0.9 percent to 68.15 francs after saying it sold its New Caledonia plant to Tokuyama for an undisclosed price as part of a strategy seeking to increase operating profit by 1.5 billion francs by 2014.

Barry Callebaut fell 3.4 percent to 862.5 francs as the supplier to Nestle SA sold new shares to help finance the acquisition of Petra Foods Ltd.’s cocoa-ingredients unit. The company sold the shares at 875 francs apiece and raised 279 million francs ($302 million).

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