Bloomberg News

Swiss Stocks Advance to Five-Month High, Trimming 2011 Decline

January 03, 2012

Dec. 30 (Bloomberg) -- Swiss stocks rose to a five-month high, paring the benchmark index’s decline in 2011, after the country’s central bank said foreign-currency reserves gained and Germany’s Finance Minister ruled out a euro-area breakup.

Holcim Ltd. climbed 1.5 percent, following gains in European construction shares. Petroplus Holdings AG added 6.1 percent after reports the refiner reached a financing agreement.

The Swiss Market Index, a measure of the biggest and most actively traded companies, increased 0.7 percent to 5,936.23 at the close in Zurich. That’s the highest since July 26. The gauge has still dropped 7.8 percent in 2011, its worst annual performance since 2008. Banks led losses in 2011, with UBS AG and Credit Suisse Group AG retreating more than 27 percent. The broader Swiss Performance Index gained 0.6 percent today.

The Swiss central bank’s foreign currency holdings increased to 261.9 billion Swiss francs ($278 billion) at the end of November from 261.8 billion francs in the previous month, it said in a statement today.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble ruled out a euro-area breakup and said the region is doing everything to maintain confidence in the single currency, according to an interview with Germany’s Handelsblatt.

Low Volume

Post-Christmas trading has been low, with average daily volume in the Stoxx Europe 600 Index this week dipping to 33 percent of this year’s average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Exchanges in the U.K., Ireland and Germany closed early today for the New Year’s holiday.

“Volumes are relatively quiet,” Ken Polcari, a managing director at ICAP Plc’s equities unit in New York, said in a Bloomberg Television interview. “Next week, we’ve got the new year. The focus will once again turn to the bigger European problem.”

China’s economic growth is expected to be more than 9 percent this year, the official Xinhua News Agency said in a New Year’s editorial today. Even so, the economy may face downside pressure next year, Xinhua says.

Holcim advanced 1.5 percent to 50.25 francs after four days of losses.

Petroplus rose 6.1 percent to 1.74 francs, rebounding from a record low. The oil refiner reached a provisional financing agreement with lenders after a credit freeze, Reuters reported, citing a person it didn’t identify.

--Editors: Andrew Rummer, Srinivasan Sivabalan

To contact the reporter on this story: Tom Stoukas in Athens at astoukas@bloomberg.net

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


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