Swiss Stocks Advance as SMI Gains for Third Straight Week

Stocks in Switzerland rose, extending a five-year high for the benchmark index, as the Swiss franc fell the lowest in more than 100 days against the euro and health-care shares rallied.

Novartis AG jumped to a six-year high after saying the U.S. approved its Ilaris treatment for childhood arthritis. Credit Suisse Group AG advanced to its highest price in more than 21 months, pacing gains among European banks.

The Swiss Market Index added 1.1 percent to 8,177.85 at the close in Zurich, its highest level since January 2008. The gauge increased 3 percent in a four-day week, its third straight weekly advance, as companies reported better-than-forecast earnings and Chinese trade data beat estimates. The SMI has rallied 20 percent so far this year. The broader Swiss Performance Index rose 1 percent today.

“The recent dramatic weakening of the Swiss franc against the dollar and in particular the euro means the currency is now favorable for earnings,” Norman Villamin, who helps oversee more than $40 billion as European chief investment officer at Coutts & Co. in Zurich, wrote in a note. “Previously, Swiss franc strength had been a headwind to corporate results.”

The franc depreciated against the euro to its weakest since Jan. 28. It fell 0.5 percent to 1.2434 per euro. Against the dollar, it fell to its lowest in eight months.

The volume of shares changing hands in SMI-listed companies was 28 percent higher than the average of the past 30 days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Valuation Outlook

“For long-term investors, our answer is you stick with equities,” Russ Koesterich, chief investment strategist at BlackRock Inc. in New York, told Tom Keene on Bloomberg Radio. “If you look at the alternatives -- cash and fixed income -- they don’t look particularly appetizing. Despite this rally, stocks are still reasonably priced on most metrics. There’s no metric I’m aware of that would tell you stocks are close to bubble territory.”

German exports, adjusted for working days and seasonal changes, advanced 0.5 percent in March from February, when they dropped 1.2 percent, the Federal Statistics Office in Wiesbaden said. The increase matched the median forecast of 16 economists in a Bloomberg News survey. Imports rose 0.8 percent.

Novartis, Roche

Novartis rose 2.1 percent to 71.70 Swiss francs, its highest price since February 2007. Its Ilaris drug is the only monthly-injection treatment approved by U.S. regulators to treat systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis, the Basel-based company said.

Roche added 1.6 percent to 242.70 francs, its highest close since at least October 1989. The world’s largest maker of cancer drugs will seek approvals in several territories for skin-cancer treatment Erivedge, after the medicine was approved in Australia, its partner Curis Inc. said in a statement. Roche said in January the U.S. approved the drug.

Credit Suisse advanced 2.1 percent to 28.52 francs for its sixth straight day of gains. Citigroup Inc. named Switzerland’s second-largest lender as one of its top picks in the European banking sector. The industry is attractive on income measures, Citigroup said in a note.

Julius Baer Group Ltd., the third-largest Swiss wealth manager, rose 1.7 percent to 38.58 francs, its highest price in almost two years.

Adecco SA increased 4.3 percent to 54.20 francs, the biggest rally in more than nine months. Shares in the world’s biggest supplier of temporary workers posted their biggest weekly rally since October.

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