Swiss Stocks Little Changed Amid U.S. Budget-Deal Concern

Swiss stocks were little changed, following a two-day decline, as investors assessed the likelihood that U.S. politicians will fail to approve a federal budget for the new financial year.

Swissquote Group Holding SA surged 13 percent after agreeing to buy MIG Bank for an undisclosed price. Clariant AG lost 1.6 percent after UBS AG removed the maker of specialty chemicals from the list of its most preferred shares.

The Swiss Market Index rose 0.1 percent to 8,055.23 at the close in Zurich. The equity benchmark has climbed 4 percent this month, extending its gain this quarter to 4.8 percent, as the Federal Reserve refrained from reducing its monthly bond purchases. The gauge has rallied 18 percent so far in 2013, the third-best performance by a European developed market. The Swiss Performance Index gained less than 0.1 percent today.

“The markets have much to pause and ponder over,” Daniel Weston, a portfolio manager at Aimed Capital GmbH in Munich, wrote in an e-mail. “Taper or not to taper and the debt-ceiling debate will come to the fore soon, but for now it is a good reason to wait and take count of a strong year for stocks.”

The volume of shares changing hands in SMI-listed companies today was 13 percent lower than the average of the past 30 days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew said that investors should take more seriously the risk that politicians may fail to pass a new budget. “I think that if you look at the calm out there, which I think is a bit greater than it should be, there’s a sense that 2011 was a terrible experience, and nobody would do that again,” he said.

Lew’s Warning

Lew, who spoke at the Bloomberg Markets 50 Summit in New York yesterday, repeated that Obama won’t negotiate with congressional Republicans on increasing the $16.7 trillion limit on the nation’s borrowing authority and said the government will probably have less than $50 billion in cash by mid-October.

In the U.S., a Commerce Department report showed that durable-goods orders, excluding the volatile transportation category, fell 0.1 percent in August. The median economist forecast had called for bookings to climb 1 percent.

A separate release showed that new house sales increased 7.9 percent to a 421,000 annualized pace last month. The median forecast of 77 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News had called for 420,000 sales of new residential properties.

Swissquote Rallies

Swissquote surged 13 percent to 33.60 Swiss francs, its biggest gain in two years. The provider of online trading and banking services said its acquisition of MIG will expand its foreign-exchange operations. Currency activities accounted for about a quarter of net revenue in the first half of the year, the company said in a statement.

Transocean Ltd, the world’s largest supplier of offshore oil rigs, posted the biggest gain on the SMI, rising 1.4 percent to 41.26 francs.

Clariant slid 1.6 percent to 15.57 francs, dropping for a seventh day. UBS removed the company from its most preferred list because of the shares’ recent rally. Clariant has surged 26 percent this year, while the SPI has gained 21 percent.

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