Jan. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Most Swiss stocks advanced as European Union finance ministers met in Brussels and bondholders said they’ve made their “maximum offer” in negotiating a debt swap with Greece.
UBS AG and Credit Suisse Group AG, Switzerland’s biggest lenders, followed the region’s banking shares higher. Trading on Petroplus Holdings AG, the Swiss refiner trying to avoid bankruptcy, was suspended at the company’s request.
The Swiss Market Index, a measure of the biggest and most actively traded companies, added 0.1 percent to 6,127.67 at the close in Zurich. Fourteen shares advanced in the 20-member gauge, while the rest declined. The SMI rallied last week amid signs that the U.S. economy is recovering and on speculation China will take measures to spur economic growth. The broader Swiss Performance Index added 0.2 percent today.
“Ongoing negotiations in Greece do not appear to make participants particularly nervous,” said Konstantin Giantiroglou, head of investment advisory at Neue Aargauer Bank AG in Brugg, Switzerland. “Considering the market’s rise since the beginning of the year, I would say that a slight correction is certainly normal.”
EU finance ministers are meeting in Brussels to discuss new budget rules, a financial firewall to protect indebted states and a Greek debt swap, with leaders racing to cobble together a firm rescue plan in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, cash-strapped Greece and private bondholders said they had made progress in talks over the weekend in Athens.
The gauge has rallied 3.2 percent since the beginning of this year as economic reports around the world exceeded forecasts and falling bond yields in the euro area eased concern that the debt crisis is spreading.
Bondholders negotiating a debt swap with Greece have made their “maximum offer,” leaving it to the European Union and International Monetary Fund to decide whether to accept the deal, said Charles Dallara, who’s representing private creditors in the talks.
Dallara, managing director of the Institute of International Finance, said he’s hopeful the EU and IMF will agree to terms for private investor involvement in a rescue of Greece to avert a default and collapse of the economy.
UBS and Credit Suisse rose 1.9 percent to 12.89 Swiss francs and 1.5 percent to 24.61 francs, respectively. A gauge of European banks was the best performer of the 19 industry groups in the Stoxx Europe 600 Index.
Kuoni, Kuehne & Nagel
Kuoni Reisen Holding AG climbed 5.4 percent to 269 francs after its chief executive officer, Peter Rothwell, told NZZ am Sonntag that the Swiss travel company is not interesting in acquiring Thomas Cook Group Plc.
Kuehne & Nagel International AG, the world’s largest sea- freight forwarder, climbed 0.8 percent to 115.60 francs.
Trading on the shares of Petroplus, Europe’s largest independent refiner, was suspended after noon at the company’s request, according to the Swiss Exchange in Zurich. Gergely Varkonyi, an analyst at Deutsche Bank AG, cut the stock to “hold” from “buy.”
Sonova Holding AG fell 1.5 percent to 96.15 francs as Romain Zana, an analyst at Exane BNP Paribas downgraded the hearing-aid maker to “underperform” from “neutral.” Zana also recommended investors switch from Sonova to William Demant Holding A/S, citing “more favorable” news flow.
Novartis AG retreated 0.9 percent to 51.60 francs. Nestle SA, the maker of KitKat chocolate bars and Nescafe Gold Blend instant coffee, lost 0.6 percent to 53.25 francs. The two companies make up almost 42 percent of the SMI.
--Editors: Srinivasan Sivabalan, Randall Hackley
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