Swiss Stocks Little Changed as SMI Caps Monthly Gain

Stocks in Switzerland closed little changed, with the benchmark Swiss Market Index completing its longest streak of monthly gains in seven years.

UBS AG, the country’s largest lender, advanced to its highest price in almost two years, after posting first-quarter net income that was more than double the average forecast. Credit Suisse Group AG led declining shares. Straumann Holding AG slid 1.1 percent after quarterly sales dropped.

The Swiss Market Index added less than 0.1 percent to 7,906.21 in Zurich, amid a report that showed business activity in the U.S. unexpectedly shrank this month. The gauge earlier rose as much as 0.7 percent and fell as much as 0.4 percent. The broader Swiss Performance Index climbed 0.1 percent today.

“Everybody is focusing on this Chicago PMI because its the lowest since September 2009 and it is of course in contraction territory,” said John Plassard, who helps oversee $28 billion as vice president at Mirabaud Securities LLP in Geneva. “With markets closed tomorrow, people are not willing to take that risk.” The Swiss Exchange will be shut tomorrow for the Labor Day holiday.

The SMI rallied 1.2 percent in April, its eighth consecutive month of gains, as investors bet that central banks will maintain economic stimulus. Today, the volume of shares changing hands in SMI-listed companies was 79 percent higher than the average of the past 30 days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Business Barometer

Business activity in the U.S. unexpectedly shrank in April for the first time in more than three years, data showed. The MNI Chicago Report’s business barometer fell to 49 in April from 52.4 last month. A reading less than 50 signals contraction.

The U.S. Federal Reserve starts a two-day policy meeting today and may consider renewing its commitment to bond-buying. The European Central Bank is forecast to cut its benchmark interest rate on May 2 to a record low of 0.5 percent, according to 43 of 70 projections compiled by Bloomberg. One economist in the survey predicted a half-point reduction to 0.25 percent.

UBS gained 5.7 percent to 16.60 francs, its highest price since May 12, 2011. The lender reported first-quarter net income of 988 million Swiss francs ($1.05 billion) on higher revenues at the investment bank and in wealth management. That surpassed the 412.3 million-franc average estimate of nine analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Julius Baer Group Ltd., Switzerland’s third-biggest wealth manager, advanced 3.6 percent to 37.04 francs.

Credit Suisse, the country’s second-largest bank, dropped 1.7 percent to 25.78 Swiss francs, for the biggest loss in SMI.

Straumann fell 1.1 percent to 121.90 francs. The world’s largest maker of dental implants, reported a 6 percent drop in first-quarter sales to 175 million francs and said it plans to cut 200 jobs by the end of the year.

Nobel Biocare Holding AG, the second-biggest maker of dental implants, slid 3.7 percent to 10.40 francs.

Transocean Ltd., the world’s largest supplier of oil rigs, fell 1.2 percent to 47.47 francs.

Adecco SA, the world’s largest supplier of temporary workers, dropped 1.2 percent to 49.73 francs.

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