Swiss Stocks Little Changed as U.S. Home Sales Decline
Swiss stocks were little changed, erasing an earlier gain, after a report showed U.S. house sales unexpectedly fell last month, offsetting the Group of 20’s lack of opposition to Japan’s accommodative monetary policies.
Credit Suisse Group AG (CSGN) and UBS AG followed a gauge of European lenders higher. Cie. Financiere Richemont SA and Swatch Group SA declined more than 1 percent as peer Hermes International SCA said watch sales fell in the first quarter.
The benchmark Swiss Market Index (SMI) lost 0.1 percent to 7,609.1 at the close in Zurich, erasing an earlier rally of as much as 0.8 percent. The benchmark measure decreased 1.8 percent last week as economic reports from the U.S. to China and Germany missed forecasts. The gauge has still surged 12 percent this year. The broader Swiss Performance Index also decreased 0.1 percent today.
“We had a healthy correction in the last couple of weeks and the market appears to be stabilizing now,” said Konstantin Giantiroglou, head of investment advisory at Neue Aargauer Bank in Brugg, Switzerland. “The G-20 statement was very clever as it did not raise again fears of an imminent currency war.”
At a meeting in Washington on April 19, the Group of 20 finance ministers failed to oppose the Bank of Japan’s plan to buy more than 7 trillion yen ($71 billion) of bonds a month. The central bank’s Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said he would proceed with his campaign to end 15 years of deflation. The Bank of Japan aims to increase inflation to 2 percent within two years.
“Winning international understanding gives me more confidence to conduct monetary policy appropriately,” Kuroda told reporters after the meeting. “We will continue our qualitative and quantitative easing for the next two years.”
In Italy, Giorgio Napolitano was re-elected as president and he will be sworn in for a second seven-year term at 5 p.m. in Rome. The new head of state will preside over negotiations to form a coalition government. The elections in February failed to produce a majority in both houses of parliament for any of the country’s political groups.
In the U.S., sales of previously owned houses unexpectedly declined to 4.92 million in March, data from the National Association of Realtors showed. Economists had predicted an increase to a 5 million annualized rate.
Meyer Burger Technology AG (MBTN), which supplies machinery to solar-panel makers, climbed 3.7 percent to 7.37 francs after ABB Ltd. (ABBN) agreed to buy Power-One Inc. for about $1 billion, or $6.35 a share. That’s 57 percent more than Power-One’s closing price on April 19. The U.S. company’s inverters allow power generators to feed solar power into electricity networks. ABB retreated 1.2 percent to 19.70 francs.
Richemont, the owner of the Cartier brand, fell 1.5 percent to 68.15 francs. Swatch, the biggest maker of Swiss watches, dropped 1.4 percent to 511.50 francs. Hermes said in a statement that watch sales declined 5.3 percent as the Chinese market slowed at the start of the year. The maker of Kelly handbags posted its slowest revenue growth in a quarter since 2009.
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