July 18 (Bloomberg) -- Swiss stocks closed little changed, paring earlier gains, as data showed jobless claims in the U.S. dropped to a two-month low.
UBS AG and Credit Suisse Group AG, Switzerland’s largest lenders, and Julius Baer Group Ltd., the third-biggest Swiss wealth manager, climbed amid optimism for earnings. Actelion Ltd. rose after raising its full-year profit forecast.
The Swiss Market Index rose less than 0.1 percent to 7,929.01 in Zurich. The equity benchmark has rallied 16 percent so far this year, for the fourth-best performance among the 24 developed markets tracked by Bloomberg. The broader Swiss Performance Index added 0.1 percent.
The volume of shares changing hands in SMI-listed companies was 15 percent lower than the 30-day average today, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
U.S. jobless claims dropped by 24,000 to 334,000 in the week ended July 13, the fewest since early May, from a revised 358,000 the prior period, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 49 economists surveyed by Bloomberg projected 345,000.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said the Federal Open Market Committee will act if necessary to combat too-low inflation and avert potential damage to the economy.
“The committee is certainly aware that very low inflation poses risks to economic performance -- for example by raising the real cost of capital investment -- and increases the risk of outright deflation,” Bernanke said in testimony prepared for the Senate Banking Committee, repeating comments he made yesterday to a House panel. “We will act as needed to ensure that inflation moves back toward our 2 percent objective over time.”
UBS advanced 2.1 percent to 17.38 Swiss francs. Credit Suisse rose 1.9 percent to 27.42 francs. Julius Baer rose 2.3 percent to 40 francs.
A gauge of European lenders jumped to its highest level since June 7 after Morgan Stanley posted second-quarter earnings that beat forecasts, boosting earning optimism for banks’ earnings.
Actelion climbed 1.8 percent to 61.30 francs. The Swiss drugmaker that gets almost 90 percent of sales from a treatment for a rare lung disease raised its full-year profit forecast as second-quarter sales beat estimates and it cut spending.
SGS, the world’s largest product inspection company, fell 1.8 percent to 2,100 francs. Barclays cut its price forecast to 2,450 francs from 2,500 francs a day after the company posted first-half profit that missed estimates because of restructuring costs in Europe and a decline in earnings at its minerals business.
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