Swiss Stocks Are Little Changed as Economy Expands

Stocks in Switzerland were little changed, with the benchmark Swiss Market Index heading for its ninth consecutive monthly gain, as a report showing the economy grew more than estimated offset worse-than-forecast U.S. data.

Swatch Group AG and Cie. Financiere Richemont SA retreated. Syngenta AG, the world’s largest maker of crop chemicals, slid 1.1 percent. Sulzer AG, the pump maker, retreated 1.4 percent. Credit Suisse Group AG climbed 1.8 percent for the best performance on the gauge.

The SMI fell 0.1 percent to 8,021.57 at the close of trading in Zurich, after earlier adding as much as 0.6 percent and declining as much as 0.5 percent. The measure is still heading towards a monthly gain of 1.5 percent and has surged about 26 percent since the end of August 2012 as central banks around the world continued their asset-buying programs. The broader Swiss Performance Index also lost 0.1 percent today.

“The low market liquidity due to a regional holiday in large parts of Europe is a good environment for technical corrections and hence the reason for some of the fluctuations on the SMI today,” said Reto Huenerwadel, senior economist at UBS AG in Zurich.

Swiss stocks slumped yesterday as concern mounted that the Federal Reserve will begin to scale back its program of bond purchases when the U.S. economy strengthens.

Switzerland’s economy expanded more than expected in the first quarter. Gross domestic product rose 0.6 percent from the fourth quarter, when it advanced by a revised 0.3 percent, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs in Bern said today. Economists expected a rise of 0.2 quarter-on-quarter, according to the median prediction in a Bloomberg survey.

U.S. Data

The U.S. economy grew less than previously estimated in the first quarter. Gross domestic product rose at a 2.4 percent annualized rate, the Commerce Department said today in Washington. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey called for no revision from the 2.5 percent pace initially reported.

Fewer Americans than forecast signed contracts in April to buy previously owned homes, according to a separate report. The index of pending home sales rose 0.3 percent after a 1.5 percent gain in March, figures from the National Association of Realtors showed today in Washington. Economists forecast April contract signings would match the prior month’s increase.

Swatch, the biggest maker of Swiss watches, retreated 0.4 percent to 558 Swiss francs, paring earlier losses of as much as 1.4 percent. Richemont, the owner of the Cartier brand, slid 1.4 percent to 86.65 francs, for the biggest drop on the benchmark.

Syngenta slid 1.1 percent to 381.30 francs, for the second-biggest decline on the SMI.

Sulzer declined 1.4 percent to 161.10 francs, the lowest price in more than three weeks.

Credit Suisse, Switzerland’s second-biggest bank, gained 1.8 percent to 28.34 francs.

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