Swiss stocks erased their advance in the final half an hour of trading, leaving the benchmark Swiss Market Index little changed.
Roche Holding AG and Actelion Ltd. advanced, following a gain by a gauge of European health-care companies. Ems-Chemie Holding AG rose 5.5 percent after the chemical producer posted first-half earnings and said it plans to increase its dividend. PubliGroupe SA fell to its lowest price in more than two years.
The SMI slipped less than 0.1 percent to 7,983.18 at the close in Zurich, erasing a gain of as much as 0.7 percent. The equity benchmark has still advanced 2.6 percent this week as Alcoa Inc. started the U.S. earnings season with better-than-estimated results and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said the economy still needs stimulus. The broader Swiss Performance Index lost 0.1 percent today.
“European stocks are following the strong close in the U.S.,” said Christian Zogg, who manages about $540 million as head of equity and fixed income at LLB Asset Management AG in Vaduz, Liechtenstein. “It’s interesting that markets are shrugging at the news in China. One can say that the lack of liquidity won’t be a topic.”
U.S. stocks jumped yesterday, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 index closing at a record level. The volume of shares changing hands in SMI-listed companies was 36 percent lower than the 30-day average today, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
European Central Bank executive-board member Vitor Constancio said in Singapore today that the euro area’s slow economic recovery “implies that monetary policy has to stay accommodative for a longer period of time.”
In China, Finance Minister Lou Jiwei signaled that the world’s second-biggest economy may expand less than the government’s target this year and that growth as low as 6.5 percent may be tolerable in the future.
While the government in March set a 2013 growth goal of 7.5 percent, Lou said he’s confident of achieving a 7 percent rate this year. He spoke yesterday at the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Washington.
Roche, the world’s largest maker of cancer drugs, rose 0.5 percent to 243.80 francs. Actelion Ltd. increased 1.6 percent to 60.95 francs.
Ems-Chemie rose 5.5 percent to 311.75 francs after posting earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization that climbed to 210 million francs ($222 million). The chemical producer also confirmed its outlook and said it plans to increase its dividend by 43 percent to 10 francs.
PubliGroupe slumped 7.4 percent to 113.50 francs after the advertising company said it will post a half-year loss and miss a break-even target when it reports results on Aug. 26.
“Investor confidence, which started to build up, is now gone and it will take time to regain it,” Andy Schnyder, an analyst at Vontobel Holding AG, wrote in a note to clients today. “Therefore we expect the stock to be dead until the company can prove -- by publishing good results -- that they can turn around the media-sales business.”
Swatch Group AG, the biggest manufacturer of components for Swiss watches, slid 2.8 percent to 541 francs. The company won a partial reprieve from the country’s competition regulator on rules forcing it to sell mechanical watch mechanisms to third parties.
Swatch will be allowed from 2014 to reduce shipments of mechanical mechanisms to other watch producers in Switzerland to 75 percent of the level in 2010.