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Swiss Stocks Rise as Euro-Area Confidence Beats Estimates

Aug. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Swiss stocks climbed for a second day, with the Swiss Market Index posting a weekly gain, as a measure of consumer confidence in the euro zone rebounded more than economists had expected.

Swiss Life Holding AG and Baloise Holding AG rose more than 1 percent, following European insurers higher. Bachem Holding AG jumped to its highest price in more than two years after the maker of drug ingredients reported increased profit.

The SMI added 0.2 percent to 8,006.90 at the close in Zurich, extending its increase this week to 0.6 percent. The equity benchmark surged 1.3 percent yesterday, extending its advance this year to 17 percent, as measures of manufacturing in the euro area and China grew more than forecast. The broader Swiss Performance Index rose 0.3 percent today.

“After yesterday’s rally, investors are taking a breather,” said Daniel Rotzer, an investment adviser at LGT Bank Schweiz AG in Zurich. “With September approaching, market participants are probably expecting some higher volatility as we are going to face several key events and catalysts.”

Federal Reserve policy makers hold their next meeting on Sept. 17-18. The U.S. central bank will decide to reduce its $85 billion in monthly bond purchases, according to 65 percent of economists in an Aug. 9-13 Bloomberg survey. Federal elections take place in Germany on Sept. 22.

The volume of shares changing hands in SMI-listed companies was 27 percent lower than the average of the last 30 days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Consumer Confidence

Euro-area consumer confidence improved for a ninth month to minus 15.6 in August, its highest level since July 2011, according to a preliminary report from the European Commission. Economists had predicted the gauge would rise to minus 16.5, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey.

A U.S. Commerce Department report showed that Americans bought 394,000 newly built houses and flats at an annualized pace last month, the fewest since October. The release revised the number of purchases in June to 455,000, fewer than the previous estimate. The median estimate of 74 economists surveyed by Bloomberg had called for a rate of 487,000.

Swiss Life, the country’s biggest life insurer, climbed 2.4 percent to 185.40 Swiss francs and Baloise gained 1.2 percent to 101.90 francs. Swiss Re Ltd., the world’s second-largest reinsurer, advanced 1.6 percent to 74.20 francs.

Bachem jumped 3.4 percent to 46.95 francs. The company reported net income of 10.4 million francs ($11 million) in the first half, compared with 7.3 million francs a year earlier.

To contact the reporter on this story: Corinne Gretler in Zurich at cgretler1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Rummer at arummer@bloomberg.net

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