Swiss Stocks Rise to Highest Since May 2008

Swiss stocks advanced to the highest level since May 2008 as shares of construction-related companies rose after better-than-estimated earnings from Lafarge SA.

Schindler Holding AG, the elevator maker, and Geberit AG, the manufacturer of toilets and piping systems, followed a gauge of European building-industry shares higher. Sulzer AG climbed for a 12th day, posting the longest winning streak since at least October 1989.

The Swiss Market Index gained 0.6 percent to 7,626.01 at the close in Zurich. The measure has jumped 12 percent so far this year as the Swiss franc depreciated against the euro. The broader Swiss Performance Index added 0.5 percent today.

“Market sentiment is certainly positive,” said Michele Rimann, a trader at Luzerner Kantonalbank AG in Lucerne, Switzerland. “Construction and industrial shares are pushing the SMI higher as part of a positive read-across from Lafarge’s results.”

The volume of shares changing hands in SMI-listed companies was 18 percent lower than the average of the last 30 days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

In the U.S. housing starts dropped more than projected last month, a Commerce Department report showed. They fell at an annual pace of 8.5 percent in January, after a revised 15.7 percent gain the previous month. That compares with the median forecast in a Bloomberg survey for a 3.6 percent decrease.

The Federal Reserve will release the minutes of its Jan. 29-30 policy meeting at 2 p.m. in Washington.

Construction Shares

Schindler gained 0.3 percent to 139.10 Swiss francs and Geberit increased 0.8 percent to 225.70 francs. A gauge of European construction companies posted the best performance of the 19 industry groups in the Stoxx Europe 600 Index after the earnings report from Lafarge, the world’s biggest cement maker.

Sulzer, the pump maker, advanced 0.9 percent to 164.60 francs, its highest price since December 2007.

Aryzta AG slipped 2.1 percent to 52.80 francs, the most in almost five months. The owner of bakery brands including Delice de France and Otis Spunkmeyer said it acquired Klemme AG for 280 million euros ($376 million) to expand in Germany. The deal includes a 10 million-euro deferred payment.

“We would’ve preferred it if some quiet finally had returned to the takeover front at Aryzta and that Aryzta would focus on the lower-risk organic growth, which is why we assess this new takeover slightly negative,” Patrik Schwendimann, an analyst at Zuercher Kantonalbank AG in Zurich, wrote in a note to clients today.