Swiss Stocks Advance Before Start of U.S. Earnings Season

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Swiss stocks gained as investors awaited the start of the U.S. fourth-quarter earnings-reporting season and a report showed economic confidence in the euro-area rose more than forecast last month.

Actelion Ltd. jumped the most since July after the maker of the Tracleer blood-pressure drug reiterated its forecast for

2013. Syngenta AG rallied 2.1 percent after peer Monsanto Co. reported fiscal first-quarter earnings that topped analyst estimates. Novartis AG advanced, while Nobel Biocare Holding AG and Straumann Holding AG dropped more than 2 percent each.

The Swiss Market Index added 0.4 percent to 7,074.52 at the close of trading in Zurich, the highest level since September

2008. The gauge rallied 3.5 percent last week, the biggest jump in 13 months, as U.S. lawmakers approved a compromise budget that avoided most scheduled deficit-reduction measures. The SMI gained 15 percent last year. The broader Swiss Performance Index advanced 0.3 percent today.

“Sentiment remains positive,” said Roland Schuermann, a trader at Luzerner Kantonalbank AG in Lucerne, Switzerland. “We saw some profit-taking yesterday after strong recent gains. It seems like the market wants to continue its move upward. Actelion shares are sought after today, which also helps support the market.”

Alcoa Inc., the largest American aluminum producer, will unofficially start the U.S. fourth-quarter earnings-reporting season after the market closes today. Fourth-quarter profits at S&P 500 companies grew an average 2.9 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Excluding financial companies, income increased 0.5 percent.

Economic Confidence

Economic confidence in the euro area gained more than economists expected in December. An index of executive and consumer sentiment in the euro region rose to 87 last month from

85.7 in November, the European Commission in Brussels said. Economists had forecast an increase to 86.3, according to the median of 24 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey.

Separate data in Germany showed that exports from Europe’s largest economy declined more than economists forecast in November.

Exports adjusted for working days and seasonal changes fell

3.4 percent from October, the Federal Statistics Office said. That’s the steepest decline in more than a year. Economists had forecast a 0.5 percent drop, according to the median of 9 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey. Imports fell 3.7 percent from October.

Actelion, Novartis

Actelion rallied 3.4 percent to 46.26 Swiss francs, the most since July 19. The company said earnings in 2013 will about match figures from last year, with “single-digit percentage growth” in 2014 and a double-digit increase in 2015 because of sales of macitentan, a planned successor to Tracleer.

Syngenta advanced 2.1 percent to 378.90 francs, the highest price since it sold shares to the public in November 2000, after peer Monsanto posted first fiscal-quarter earnings that topped analyst projections and boosted its full-year forecast as corn-seed sales climbed in Latin America and the U.S.

Novartis added 0.6 percent to 59.55 francs. The company will limit acquisition deals to $4 billion this year and won’t sell assets such as its money losing vaccines units, Chief Executive Officer Joe Jimenez said in an interview.

Separately, Novartis expects to resume shipping Theraflu in the U.S. this year as the company sees vaccines as an investment area and has a “very aggressive” biosimilars program, Jimenez said.

Nobel Biocare and Straumann declined 2.9 percent to 8.25 francs and 2.3 percent to 114.50 francs, respectively.

The volume of shares changing hands today in SMI-listed companies was 9.7 percent higher than the average of the last 30 days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.