Swiss Stocks Decline Amid U.S. Budget Concern
Swiss stocks fell the most in six weeks on the last trading day of the year amid concern talks between U.S. lawmakers may not yield a budget deal by the year- end deadline to avoid automatic tax increases and spending cuts.
Credit Suisse Group AG (CSGN), Switzerland’s second-largest lender, retreated 1.1 percent. Swisscom AG (SCMN), the country’s biggest phone company, slid 0.8 percent. Transocean Ltd. climbed 0.4 percent.
The Swiss Market Index (SMI) dropped 0.6 percent to 6,822.44 at the close in Zurich, the most since Nov. 16, completing a weekly decline of 1 percent. The broader Swiss Performance Index lost 0.5 percent today.
The SMI rallied 15 percent this year as the European Central Bank announced an unlimited bond-buying plan and the Federal Reserve expanded asset purchases.
“U.S. lawmakers will attempt to meet again on Sunday in a final attempt to ink out a deal to avert the crisis but markets are not holding their breath,” Ishaq Siddiqi, a market analyst at ETX Capital, wrote in a note.
The number of shares changing hands in the SMI was 35 percent lower than the average of the past 30 days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
President Barack Obama, who returned early from his holiday in Hawaii yesterday, has summoned congressional leaders to a White House meeting today, before a year-end deadline to avoid $600 billion in budget cuts and tax increases.
Obama will meet with Republicans John Boehner, the House Speaker and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, as well as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, both Democrats. The meeting is scheduled for 3 p.m. Washington time.
Separately, the House will hold an unusual Sunday session on the evening of Dec. 30.
The SMI’s rally this year is the biggest annual increase since 2009. Cie. Financiere Richemont SA, the world’s second- largest luxury-goods company, surged 50 percent in 2012 for the biggest gain in the benchmark gauge. Swiss Re Ltd., the second- largest reinsurer, jumped 38 percent for its best annual performance since 1997. Julius Baer Group Ltd. (BAER), the only stock on the index to post an annual loss, dropped 9.9 percent.
In today’s trading, Credit Suisse lost 1.1 percent to 22.26 Swiss francs.
Swisscom declined 0.8 percent to 393.80 francs today, trimming this year’s advance to 11 percent.
ABB Ltd. (ABBN), the world’s second-largest maker of power transformers, lost 1.1 percent to 18.75 francs.
Zurich Insurance Group AG (ZURN) dropped 0.6 percent to 243.40 francs as Switzerland’s biggest insurer said late yesterday its U.K. unit Eagle Star Insurance Group will transfer its general insurance portfolio to RiverStone, a subsidiary of Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd.
Transocean, the world’s largest offshore rig contractor, climbed 0.4 percent to 40.34 francs, snapping three days of losses.
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