Bloomberg News

Swiss Stocks Are Little Changed; Roche Gains, Petroplus Falls

December 29, 2011

Dec. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Swiss stocks closed little changed as the country’s benchmark index headed for its worst annual performance since 2008.

Julius Baer Group Ltd. and Roche Holding AG climbed more than 1 percent. Petroplus Holdings AG extended yesterday’s 46 percent loss as a union representative said management indicated that talks with creditors have encountered hurdles.

The Swiss Market Index, a measure of the biggest and most actively traded companies, rose 0.1 percent to 5,895.25 at the close of trading in Zurich as 12 stocks fell and eight stocks advanced. The SMI has rebounded 23 percent from this year’s low on Aug. 10 as the euro area’s policy makers intensified their efforts to resolve the region’s debt crisis. The gauge is still heading for an 8.4 percent decline in 2011. The broader Swiss Performance Index added 0.1 percent today.

“Despite all European markets now back in action, the post-Christmas malaise is likely to continue following a lack of cues from other markets and no significant economic data on the calendar,” Jonathan Sudaria, a trader at London Capital Group, wrote in a note.

The SMI rose as much as 0.6 percent earlier today after Italy sold bills at a lower borrowing cost. Italy sold 9 billion euros ($11.8 billion) of six-month Treasury bills to yield 3.251 percent, down from 6.504 percent at the last auction of similar securities on Nov. 25. Demand was 1.7 times the amount for sale, compared with 1.47 times last month.

‘Right Direction’

“Things are moving in the right direction,” said Yves Marcais, a sales trader at Global Equities in Paris. “It’s good news. What could have been worrisome is the amount being sold, especially at a time period when the market is so calm.”

Julius Baer, the 121-year-old Swiss wealth manager, advanced 1.4 percent to 36.98 francs. Drugmaker Roche rose 1 percent to 159.20 francs.

Petroplus dropped 11 percent to 1.65 francs, extending yesterday’s 46 percent loss. Europe’s largest independent refiner, which announced yesterday that its credit had been frozen, may begin shutting down operations at its Petit Couronne refinery in France on Jan. 2, said Laurent Patinier, a CFDT union representative.

--Editors: Srinivasan Sivabalan, Andrew Rummer

To contact the reporter on this story: Adria Cimino in Paris at acimino1@bloomberg.net

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


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