July 24 (Bloomberg) -- Stocks in Switzerland rose, with the benchmark Swiss Market Index climbing the most in two weeks, as euro-area manufacturing unexpectedly expanded and pharmaceutical companies advanced.
Roche Holding AG, the world’s biggest maker of cancer drugs, gained 1 percent. Swatch Group AG and Cie. Financiere Richemont SA increased more than 1 percent. Syngenta AG, the largest maker of crop chemicals, slid the most since September 2011 after posting first-half earnings and revenue that missed analyst estimates. Sulzer AG fell 4.4 percent as Vontobel Holding AG downgraded its recommendation for the shares.
The SMI advanced 0.3 percent to 7,923.07 at the close of trading in Zurich, having earlier risen as much as 1.1 percent. That’s still the biggest gain since July 10. The equity benchmark has rallied 16 percent this year as central banks provided stimulus measures. The broader Swiss Performance Index also added 0.3 percent today.
“The economic data out of Europe was better than expected,” said Peter Buergler, a trader at Luzerner Kantonalbank AG in Lucerne. “There’s some movement in single stocks thanks to the earnings season. The pharma giants are supporting Swiss stocks today.”
The number of shares trading hands in SMI-listed companies was 9.7 percent lower than the average of the past 30 days, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
Euro-area manufacturing unexpectedly expanded in July for the first time in two years. An index based on a survey of purchasing managers rose to 50.1 from 48.8 in June, London-based Markit Economics said today. That exceeded the median estimate of 49.1 in a Bloomberg survey of 39 economists. A reading above 50 indicates growth.
In China, a preliminary private survey showed manufacturing contracted more than estimated this month. The reading of 47.7 for an index released by HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit was less than estimated and, if confirmed in the final report Aug. 1, would be the lowest in 11 months.
Roche advanced 1 percent to 233.40 Swiss francs, contributing the most to the SMI’s gain. The company said the obinutuzumab treatment delayed progression of one of the most common types of blood cancer in a phase III study, adding it was a better treatment than rituxan against previously untreated chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
Swatch, the largest maker of Swiss watches, and Richemont, the owner of the Cartier brand, advanced 2.7 percent to 553 francs and 1.3 percent to 89.35 francs, respectively, posting the biggest increases in the SMI.
Syngenta declined 4 percent to 371 francs as it reported a drop in first-half profit after cold weather and late northern-hemisphere crop planting weighed on demand for fungicides. Net income fell 5 percent to $1.41 billion, compared with the average analyst projection of $1.49 billion.
“Syngenta’s first-half results were weak and disappointing at all levels,” Philipp Gamper, an analyst at Bank Sarasin & Cie. in Zurich, wrote in a report today. “On the back of this currently unfavorable situation we keep our distinct negative view on Syngenta. Moreover, the valuation of Syngenta’s stock is stretched, and the market expectations remain ambitious.”
Sulzer retreated 4.4 percent to 136.20 francs, for the largest four-day drop since October 2008, as Vontobel cut the stock to hold from buy and HSBC Holdings Plc downgraded the company to underweight from neutral. The shares slumped yesterday after the pumpmaker cut its full-year forecast.
“The uncertainties regarding more restructuring costs, impairments and guidance miss stay high in the second half,” Fabian Haecki, an analyst at Vontobel, wrote in a note to clients today.
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