Swiss Stocks Decline as U.S. Retail Sales FallJonathan Morgan
Stocks in Switzerland declined, trimming the benchmark Swiss Market Index’s biggest weekly gain in a month, amid speculation Cyprus will seek more bailout funds and as retail sales in the U.S. unexpectedly fell.
UBS AG and Credit Suisse Group AG, the country’s biggest banks, followed European peers lower. Temenos Group AG, a banking software maker, lost 4.3 percent as Infosys Ltd., India’s second-largest software services exporter, forecast annual sales will rise slower than analysts estimated.
The SMI fell 0.7 percent to 7,760.6 at the close of trading in Zurich, bringing this week’s advance to 1.6 percent. The broader Swiss Performance Index slipped 0.6 percent today.
“The Eurogroup meeting is weighing on stocks because of rumors that Cyprus will need a bigger bailout,” Ion Marc Valahu, co-founder and fund manager at Clairinvest in Geneva, said in a telephone interview. “Cyprus issues are again coming to the forefront, and the possibility of Cyprus exiting the euro.”
Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said he will write to European Union President Herman Van Rompuy to seek “further aid,” in line with his nation’s needs.
Cypriot government spokesman Christos Stylianides said Anastasiades hasn’t requested more financial assistance and is discussing the possibility of increasing European structural funds. That followed comments from a separate government official that the president will seek to increase the size of the rescue package.
Euro-area finance ministers met in Dublin today. Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem said the size of the program won’t change and Cyprus will be able to fill other funding gaps as it restructures its two largest banks.
Retail sales in the U.S. unexpectedly fell in March by the most in nine months as employment slowed, showing households ended the first quarter on softer footing. The 0.4 percent decrease, the biggest since June, followed a 1 percent gain in February, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 85 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for an unchanged reading in March.
U.S. consumer confidence fell to a nine-month low in April as Americans grew more pessimistic about the outlook for the economy. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of sentiment declined to 72.3 from 78.6 a month earlier.
UBS retreated 1.7 percent to 14.90 Swiss francs and Credit Suisse declined 0.8 percent to 26.10 francs. A gauge of banking shares fell the third-most of the 19 industry groups on the Stoxx Europe 600 Index.
Temenos slid 4.3 percent to 19.90 francs, the lowest since Feb. 26. Infosys sank 21 percent in Mumbai trading, its biggest drop in 10 years, as its sales forecast disappointed investors.
Transocean Ltd., the world’s largest offshore rig contractor, dropped 2.8 percent to 46.47 francs as West Texas Intermediate crude fell to a one-month low of $90.61 a barrel at 11:16 a.m. in New York.
The volume of shares changing hands in companies on the SMI today was 0.9 percent lower than the average of the past 30 days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.