Bloomberg News

Most Swiss Stocks Climb on Greek Bailout Optimism; Holcim Gains

February 18, 2012

Feb. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Swiss stocks gained, led by rallies in Holcim Ltd. and Credit Suisse Group AG, amid optimism that Greece will receive a second bailout, even as health-care companies declined.

Holcim, the world’s second-biggest cement maker, jumped 4.2 percent. Credit Suisse, Switzerland’s second-largest lender, rose 3 percent, following European banks higher. Nestle SA, the world’s largest food company, added 0.4 percent. Roche Holding AG slipped 0.3 percent and Novartis dropped 0.1 percent.

The Swiss Market Index, a measure of Switzerland’s biggest and most actively traded companies, added 0.3 percent to 6,237.38 at 3:31 p.m. in Zurich. The gauge is set for a 1.8 percent weekly gain and has rallied 5.1 percent this year as the European Central Bank moved to lend more to banks and U.S. economic reports topped forecasts. The broader Swiss Performance Index increased 0.4 percent.

“Markets are confident that Greece will finally receive the second bailout package and reach a haircut deal,” said Alessandro Fezzi, senior market analyst at LGT Capital Management AG in Pfaeffikon, Switzerland. “However, markets don’t react to bad news the way they used to in 2011, so even if we see a further delay to the deal, it probably won’t provoke a panic reaction.”

Germany wants euro-area finance ministers to avoid splitting the 130 billion-euro ($171 billion) bailout for Greece from the planned bond swap with private creditors, officials from Europe’s largest economy said in a briefing to their country’s lawmakers. The finance chiefs of the 17 nations using the single currency meet on Feb. 20 in Brussels.

Bailout Approval

As long as Greece meets conditions for the aid, the finance chiefs will probably approve the package along with the debt exchange, three German officials involved in the telephone briefing said yesterday. A Finance Ministry spokesman declined to comment.

In the U.S., a Labor Department report showed that the cost of living rose less than forecast in January, advancing 0.2 percent after no change the prior month. Economists in a Bloomberg survey had projected a 0.3 percent gain.

Holcim jumped 4.2 percent to 58.35 francs after peer Lafarge SA, the world’s largest cement maker, reported operating income that beat estimates.

Bank Rally

A gauge of European banks advanced 1.7 percent, making the biggest contribution to the Stoxx 600’s rally . Credit Suisse rose 3 percent to 24.58 francs. Swiss Life Holding AG, the country’s biggest life insurer, increased 2.5 percent to 102.80 francs and Baloise Holding AG gained 2.6 percent to 74.65 francs.

Julius Baer Group Ltd. dropped 2.3 percent to 37.5 francs, while Vontobel Holding AG, the Swiss bank and brokerage that specializes in derivatives, fell 3.5 percent to 24.85 francs. The stock fell the most in more than three years yesterday as profit declined and it cuts its dividend.

Nestle added 0.4 percent to 55.80 francs, extending yesterday’s gains. Jean-Philippe Bertschy, an analyst at Vontobel Holding AG, raised his price estimate for the stock to 58 francs from 55 francs.

Health-care companies led losers, with Roche, the world’s largest maker of cancer drugs, retreating 0.3 percent to 162 francs and Novartis AG dropping 0.1 percent to 51.90 francs.

Transocean Ltd., the biggest operator of offshore drilling rigs, climbed 1.8 percent to 45.80 francs as crude oil headed for the largest weekly gain this year.

--Editors: Alan Soughley, Randall Hackley

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To contact the reporter on this story: Corinne Gretler in Zurich at cgretler1@bloomberg.net

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


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