Swiss Stocks Are Little Changed; Swisscom, Swiss Re FallCorinne Gretler
Swiss stocks were little changed, after their longest monthly rally since 2006, as Swisscom AG and Swiss Re Ltd. declined, offsetting the European Central Bank’s decision to cut interest rates.
Swisscom lost 1.8 percent after publishing worse-than-forecast earnings in the first quarter. Swiss Re dropped 2.4 percent as the world’s second-biggest reinsurer said the market environment remains challenging. Transocean Ltd., the world’s biggest supplier of offshore rigs, rose 3.1 percent.
The SMI fell less than 0.1 percent to 7,902.21 at the close in Zurich. The gauge rallied 1.2 percent in April, its eighth consecutive month of gains, as investors bet that central banks will maintain economic stimulus. The broader Swiss Performance Index was also little changed today.
“The ECB’s rate cut shows clearly that the attempts so far to stimulate growth in Europe have failed,” said Martin Schlatter, a fund manager at Swiss Rock Asset Management AG in Zurich, which oversees about 1 billion Swiss francs. “The market fears a situation like in Japan.”
The ECB cut its key interest rate to a record low. Policy makers meeting in Bratislava today lowered the main refinancing rate to 0.5 percent from 0.75 percent, a move predicted by 45 of 70 economists in a Bloomberg News survey. The ECB kept the deposit rate at zero and reduced the marginal lending rate to 1 percent from 1.5 percent.
Swisscom slid 1.8 percent to 429.90 Swiss francs. The country’s largest phone company said first-quarter profit amounted to 388 million francs ($418 million), trailing the average 402.5 million-franc analyst estimate.
Swiss Re declined 2.4 percent to 72.20 francs after saying weaker economic conditions will affect the reinsurance industry.
“We expect weak growth and low interest rates to continue for at least another year, which will restrain growth in our industry,” the company said in a statement.
SGS SA, the world’s biggest product inspector, fell 1.5 percent to 2,214 francs. Peer Bureau Veritas fell as much as 7.6 percent after saying it sees 2013 organic growth slightly below the 6 percent to 8 percent range.
Transocean gained 3.1 percent to 48.92 francs. The company yesterday said it expects to achieve $300 million in annualized cost savings in 2014.
The volume of shares changing hands in SMI-listed companies today was 19 percent greater than the past 30 days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.