Swiss Stocks Are Little Changed; Novartis Shares Advance
Swiss stocks were little changed near a four-year high, as shares of health-care companies climbed, offsetting a reduction in the World Bank’s projections for global growth in 2013.
Novartis AG (NOVN) and Roche Holding AG added the most points to the Swiss Market Index. (SMI) Holcim Ltd. rose 0.9 percent after Jefferies & Co. increased its price forecast for the stock. Dufry (DUFN) AG slid 2.4 percent as Global Retail Group sold its entire stake in the company. Barry Callebaut (BARN) AG lost 1.4 percent as the largest maker of bulk chocolate reported first-quarter sales that missed analysts’ estimates.
The Swiss Market Index advanced 0.1 percent to 7,279.17 at 11:15 a.m. in Zurich. The gauge has surged 6.7 percent since the New Year as U.S. lawmakers reached a budget compromise and avoided automatic deficit-reduction measures. The broader Swiss Performance Index was also little today.
The volume of shares changing hands on SMI-listed companies was 48 percent higher than the average of the last 30 days, data compiled by Bloomberg showed.
The World Bank yesterday cut its global-growth forecast for this year as austerity measures, high unemployment and low business confidence weigh on developed economies.
The Washington-based bank projected the world economy will expand 2.4 percent, after growing 2.3 percent in 2012. That forecast is lower than its June estimate of 3 percent.
Novartis and Roche increased 0.8 percent to 60.90 Swiss francs and 0.3 percent to 197.70 francs, respectively. The two stocks make up about 34 percent of the SMI by weight. A gauge of European health-care companies was the best performer of the 19 industry groups in the Stoxx Europe 600 Index. The measure has jumped 2.4 percent so far this year, compared with the 1.9 percent gain in the Stoxx 600.
Holcim gained 0.9 percent to 67.05 francs. Jefferies increased its price target for the world’s biggest cement maker by sales by 6.5 percent to 82 francs.
Dufry slipped 2.4 percent to 116.20 francs. Global Retail Group sold its entire 13 percent stake in the company at 114 francs a share.
Barry Callebaut slipped 1.4 percent to 897 francs, the biggest drop in more than a month, as it reported first-quarter sales of 1.25 billion francs ($1.34 billion), missing the average 1.38 billion-franc projection in a Bloomberg News survey. The bulk chocolate maker’s first-quarter shipments rose 8.3 percent to 388,160 tonnes.
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