Bloomberg News

Swiss Stocks Climb as Greek Parliament Approves Austerity Deal

February 14, 2012

Feb. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Swiss stocks rose, erasing last week’s slide, as Greece’s Prime Minister, Lucas Papademos, won a parliamentary vote to approve an austerity package that the country needed to obtain further financial aid.

UBS AG and Credit Suisse Group AG, Switzerland’s biggest lenders, advanced at least 1.5 percent after Greek lawmakers voted for the legislation in the early hours of this morning. Zurich Financial Services AG, the country’s largest insurer, climbed 1.7 percent after Chief Executive Officer Martin Senn said that resolving a U.S. tax conflict is “crucial” for its business in the country, according to a report.

The Swiss Market Index, a measure of the largest and most actively traded companies, increased 0.8 percent to 6,177.44 at the close in Zurich. The gauge has advanced 4.1 percent this year as investors speculated that policy makers will contain the euro area’s sovereign-debt crisis. The broader Swiss Performance Index added 0.7 percent today.

“Investors are relieved after the Greeks passed austerity measures, which was the absolute minimum requirement to allow the other euro-area nations to approve the bailout,” said Witold Bahrke, a senior strategist at PFA Pension A/S in Copenhagen, which manages $45 billion. “This year’s rally will slow as more uncertainty has been added to market conditions and a Greek euro exit is no longer a negligible option.”

Finance Ministers’ Meeting

Euro-area finance ministers will convene in Brussels on Feb. 15 in an extraordinary meeting that they called after declining in a special session on Feb. 9 to ratify a 130 billion-euro ($172 billion) rescue package for Greece. The ministers had demanded that Greece’s political parties enshrine their verbal commitments in law.

Greece faces a 14.5 billion-euro bond payment on March 20 and must secure financing to avert a collapse of the economy that may lead to further contagion in the euro area.

UBS rose 1.6 percent to 12.93 Swiss francs, while Credit Suisse climbed 1.5 percent to 24 francs.

Swiss Life Holding AG rose 2.1 percent to 101.20 francs. SonntagsZeitung reported that the insurer will reveal additional cost-cutting measures later this year, citing three unidentified people close to the board of directors.

Zurich Financial increased 1.7 percent to 233 francs after NZZ am Sonntag reported Senn as saying that the company needs to maintain a “friendly dialogue” with the U.S. authorities because the world’s largest economy generates 40 percent of its business.

Novartis AG rose 1.1 percent to 51.75 francs, making the biggest contribution to the SMI’s advance. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration asked for more data on the drugmaker’s Menveo meningitis vaccine before it approves the use of the vaccine for toddlers.

--Editors: Will Hadfield, Andrew Rummer

To contact the reporter on this story: Peter Levring in Copenhagen at plevring1@bloomberg.net

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


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