Swiss Stocks Climb for Fourth Day; Holcim Shares Advance

Swiss stocks gained for a fourth day as U.S. President Barack Obama pledged to seek a free-trade agreement with the European Union and a gauge of European construction companies rallied.

Holcim Ltd. posted the biggest advance on the benchmark Swiss Market Index. Clariant AG led a gauge of European chemical companies higher.

The benchmark SMI climbed 0.7 percent to 7,482.22 at the close in Zurich. The gauge has rallied 9.7 percent this year as Transocean Ltd., the world’s largest offshore driller, and Credit Suisse Group AG, Switzerland’s second-biggest bank, both surged more than 20 percent. The broader Swiss Performance Index added 0.8 percent today.

“Sentiment is quite positive at the moment,” said Christian Zogg, who manages about $540 million as head of equity and fixed income at LLB Asset Management AG in Vaduz. “The good performance on stock markets lately is attracting new funds. Individual macro data results will be watched but probably won’t have a big influence on the broader market.”

The volume of shares changing hands in SMI-listed companies was 15 percent lower than the average of the last 30 days, data compiled by Bloomberg showed.

In the U.S., President Barack Obama said he will pursue a trade agreement with the EU in last night’s State of the Union speech. Trade and investment between the U.S. and the 27 nations that make up the EU had a value of $4.5 trillion in 2011.

A Commerce Department report showed that retail sales in the U.S. rose in January. The 0.1 percent climb followed a 0.5 percent increase in December. The advance matched the median forecast of 80 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.

Holcim gained 3.4 percent to 72.60 Swiss francs, its highest price in 21 months, and ABB Ltd. rose 2.1 percent to

19.70 francs. A gauge of construction-related companies posted the largest gain of the 19 industry groups in the benchmark Stoxx Europe 600 Index.

Clariant climbed 3.7 percent to 13.40 francs, its highest price since July 2011. Syngenta added 1.9 percent to 397.80 francs.