Bloomberg News

Swiss Stocks Slide; Novartis, Logitech Fall, Nobel Biocare Gains

June 22, 2011

June 22 (Bloomberg) -- Swiss stocks declined for the fifth time in six days as five companies on the benchmark measure fell for every one that gained.

Novartis AG, Europe’s second-biggest drugmaker by sales, dropped after one of its medications failed to gain approval in the U.S. as a treatment for gout. Logitech International SA, the largest maker of computer mice, slumped 3.1 percent.

The Swiss Market Index of the biggest and most actively traded companies declined 0.9 percent to 6,113.44 at the 5:30 p.m. close in Zurich. The measure has tumbled 9 percent since its high this year on Feb. 18 as U.S. manufacturing and jobs reports fueled concern that the recovery in the world’s largest economy is faltering and investors speculated that Greece will default on its debt. The broader Swiss Performance Index dropped 0.7 percent today.

“The markets after the confidence vote are not euphoric, but also not nervous,” said Rolf De Zaiacomo, a trader at Luzerner Kantonalbank AG in Lucerne, Switzerland. “More movement could be seen with the next hurdle of passing the austerity package and the increasing pressure from the streets, but the parliament is likely to approve it. The problem isn’t solved, but time has been gained.”

Greek Vote

Papandreou won a vote of confidence in his government from 155 out of 300 lawmakers in Athens last night. He still needs parliamentary approval next week for a 78 billion-euro ($112 billion) package of budget cuts to stave off default. After the vote, police used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse thousands of citizens protesting planned budget cuts.

European finance ministers said this week that they will hold off a 12 billion-euro payment promised for July until the Greeks approve plans to cut the deficit, sell state assets and impose a levy on wages. About 3,000 people, who were protesting outside Parliament, threw water bottles, cans and fruit at police when they learned of Papandreou’s victory.

In the U.S., the Federal Open Market Committee will release its statement on interest rates at 12:30 p.m. in Washington. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke is scheduled to meet the press at 2:15 p.m.

Novartis slipped 1 percent to 50.80 Swiss francs after a U.S. advisory panel failed to support the company’s canakinumab drug, which was developed to treat a rare inflammatory disease. The risk that it may increase infection outweighed the drug’s benefit in relieving gout symptoms, the Food and Drug Administration panel said.

Logitech, Nobel Biocare

Logitech dropped 3.1 percent to 9.36 francs, the fifth decline in six days.

Nobel Biocare Holding AG, the second-biggest maker of dental implants by sales, climbed 1.9 percent to 16.85 francs as Dentsply International Inc. agreed to buy AstraZeneca Plc’s Astra Tech unit, a Swedish manufacturer of dental prosthetics and medical devices, for $1.8 billion.

Weatherford International Ltd., an offshore oil services company, jumped 3.6 percent to 15.18 francs after BP Plc’s Chief Executive Officer Robert Dudley said at a conference in London today that the settlement with Weatherford to cover its liability for the 2010 disaster and subsequent oil spill shows BP was not solely responsible.

--With assistance from Allison Connolly in Frankfurt. 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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