Feb. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Swiss shares retreated for the fourth time in five days, led lower by Nestle SA after a rival reported revenue growth that missed analysts’ estimates.
Nestle, the biggest stock in the Swiss Market Index, slipped 1.1 percent as Unilever, the world’s second-largest consumer-goods maker, reported the weakest volume growth in almost three years. Julius Baer Group Ltd. and Givaudan SA also fell more than 1 percent.
The SMI, a measure of the biggest and most actively traded companies, dropped 0.1 percent to 6,064.41 at the close of trading in Zurich. The gauge has still advanced 2.2 percent this year amid speculation the European debt crisis will be contained. The broader Swiss Performance Index was little changed today.
Applications in the U.S. for unemployment insurance payments dropped by 12,000 to 367,000 in the week ended Jan. 28, according to a report today. The median forecast of 46 economists in a Bloomberg survey projected 371,000.
A report tomorrow may show U.S. employment grew by 145,000 after rising by 200,000 in December, according to the median forecast of 68 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. The jobless rate may have held at an almost three-year low of 8.5 percent.
“Jobs data will be interesting,” said Yves Marcais, a sales trader at Global Equities in Paris. “The latest numbers on the U.S. economy have been a bit mixed.”
Nestle, the world’s biggest food company, declined 1.1 percent to 52.80 Swiss francs. Unilever slid 4.3 percent in Amsterdam trading after saying it expects “gloomy” economic conditions to persist this year.
Julius Baer, the Swiss wealth manager established in 1890, lost 1.2 percent to 37.90 francs. Givaudan, the world’s largest maker of flavors and fragrances, sank 2.6 percent to 870 francs.
Roche Holding AG fell 0.3 percent to 153 francs, the drugmaker’s lowest price in almost two months. Enzo Life Sciences sued Roche, Life Technologies Corp. and Gen-Probe Inc., alleging infringement of a U.S. patent for gene analysis.
Petroplus Holding AG surged 73 percent to 1.11 francs, bringing the gain over the past five days to almost 600 percent. The company may attract the interest of investor Clemens Vedder and his Goldsmith group of companies, AWP news agency reported, citing a statement by Vedder. Vedder didn’t immediately reply to an e-mail by Bloomberg News.
Europe’s largest independent refiner tumbled 83 percent last week after filing for insolvency.
Transocean Ltd., the owner of deepwater oil rigs and swamp barges, added 2 percent to 44.70 francs, climbing for a third day. Holcim Ltd., the world’s second-largest cement maker, gained 2.7 percent to 55.60 francs.
--With assistance from Giles Broom in Geneva. Editor: Andrew Rummer
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