June 7 (Bloomberg) -- Swiss stocks declined for a fourth day, the longest losing streak in 2 1/2 months, as watchmakers and financial companies retreated.
Swatch Group AG, the world’s biggest maker of timepieces, and Cie. Financiere Richemont SA, the owner of the Cartier brand, fell more than 1 percent. UBS AG and Credit Suisse Group AG, the nation’s biggest banks, declined at least 0.8 percent. Clariant AG slid 2.3 percent.
The Swiss Market Index of the biggest and most actively traded companies dropped 39.41, or 0.6 percent, to 6,330.65 at the 5:30 p.m. close in Zurich. The measure has fallen 5.8 percent from this year’s high on Feb. 18 as U.S. manufacturing and jobs reports fueled concern that the recovery in the world’s largest economy is faltering and as speculation grew that Greece will default on its debt. The broader Swiss Performance Index also lost 0.6 percent today.
“Many uncertainties, such as the European debt crisis, the economic situation in the U.S. and China, the consequences of the earthquake in Japan, will probably be responsible for nervous markets,” said Benno Galliker, a trader at Luzerner Kantonalbank.
European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet yesterday gave his first signal endorsing measures to encourage investors to buy new Greek bonds to replace maturing securities as officials seek to stem the nation’s debt crisis.
Central bank policy makers have opposed any measure that could be classed as a default to avoid what European Union Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said would be a “Lehman Brothers catastrophe.”
A report today showed Swiss inflation was little changed in May as a stronger franc curbed price pressures, giving the central bank room to keep borrowing costs near zero next week. Consumer prices increased 0.4 percent from a year earlier after advancing 0.3 percent in April, the Federal Statistics Office in Neuchatel said.
Swatch fell 1 percent to 403.20 Swiss francs and Richemont dropped 1.3 percent to 53.45 francs.
UBS slipped 1.5 percent to 15.65 francs and Credit Suisse fell 0.8 percent to 35.19 francs.
Clariant, a producer of emulsions and pigments, dropped 2.3 percent to 18.42 francs even as it raised its 2011 sales and margin targets. Chief Executive Hariolf Kottman vowed to make acquisitions to push annual sales beyond 10 billion francs ($12 billion) by 2015, and margins above 17 percent.
Actelion Ltd. gained 0.5 percent to 44.99 francs. The appointment of Chief Operating Officer Otto Schwarz means the company may be open to a sale, Kepler Capital Markets said.
Schulthess Group AG, the maker of washing machines and dryers, surged 3.2 percent to 58.90 francs after NIBE Industrier AB said it has a 85.26 percent stake in the company, releasing the preliminary interim results of its offer.
Groupe Minoteries SA, an operator of flour mills, jumped 22 percent to 502 francs, the highest since at least 1990. The shares have risen 30 percent since the company acquired Steiner Muehle AG on May 24.
--With assistance from Giles Broom in Zurich. Editors: Jason Carey, Andrew Rummer
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