Bloomberg News

Swiss Stocks Decrease for Fourth Day as Syngenta Shares Slide

June 20, 2011

June 20 (Bloomberg) -- Swiss stocks declined for a fourth consecutive day, extending their losses into a sixth week, as European governments failed to agree on a loan payment to spare Greece from default.

Zurich Financial Services AG, Switzerland’s biggest insurer, dropped 0.7 percent. Syngenta AG, the world’s biggest producer of crop-protection chemicals, fell 1.3 percent. EGL AG, a Swiss utility, surged 21 percent.

The Swiss Market Index of the biggest and most actively traded companies lost 0.5 percent to 6,113.7 at the 5:30 p.m. close in Zurich. The measure has declined 9 percent since its high on Feb. 18, as concern mounted that Greece will default on its debt. The broader Swiss Performance Index decreased 0.6 percent today.

“The peripheral crisis has become more intense at the same time as the business surveys have moderated,” wrote Robert Barrie, an analyst at Credit Suisse in London, in a note to clients today. “For now, the first of those developments is clearly the most urgent. It is an uncertain and unhelpful mix for markets and for risk appetite.”

European finance ministers failed to agree to release a loan payment to spare Greece from default, ramping up pressure on Prime Minister George Papandreou to deliver further budget cuts in the face of domestic opposition.

Euro-area finance ministers put off a decision on whether Greece will get the full 12 billion euros ($17.2 billion) promised for early July as they pushed for budget cuts by Papandreou, whose government faces a confidence vote tomorrow.

Swiss Life Slides

Swiss Life Holding AG, Switzerland’s largest life insurer, plunged 4.5 percent to 132.70 francs, as a gauge of European insurers was among the worst performers of the 19 industry groups in the Stoxx Europe 600 Index. Swiss Re Ltd. fell 2.3 percent to 46.91 francs.

Zurich Financial Services dropped 0.7 percent to 213.90 francs after the company forecast claims of about $295 million from the tornadoes that struck the U.S. in April and May. The insurer predicted that its Zurich North America unit will record claims of $200 million and its Farmers Re unit about $95 million.

Basilea Pharmaceutica AG, which makes anti-bacterial and anti-fungal compounds, slipped 1.5 percent to 67.35 francs after the company cut its forecast for sales of the hand eczema drug Toctino, the company’s only marketed product, because of the strength of the franc and government austerity measures. The Basel, Switzerland-based company predicted that Toctino will generate 32 million francs ($38 million) to 34 million francs of sales this year, compared with a previous estimate of 40 million francs.

Clariant, Syngenta Fall

Clariant AG, the maker of chemicals and paints, slid 1.7 percent to 16.48 francs after Patrick Rafaisz, an analyst at Vontobel Holding AG, lowered his price estimate for the company to 22 francs from 24 francs.

Syngenta fell 1.3 percent to 269.30 francs after Neil Tyler, an equity analyst at JPMorgan Chase & Co., lowered his rating on the company’s shares to “underweight” from “neutral.”

EGL surged 21 percent to 843 francs after saying that Axpo Holding AG, its main shareholder with 91 percent, will make a public tender offer for the company at 850 francs a share.

--Editor: Will Hadfield

To contact the reporter on this story: Corinne Gretler in Zurich at cgretler1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Rummer at arummer@bloomberg.net.


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