Bloomberg News

Switzerland Stocks Are Little Changed; Swiss Re, Transocean Gain

February 24, 2012

Feb. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Swiss stocks were little changed as the European Commission said the euro-area economy will shrink this year, while German business confidence unexpectedly rose.

Transocean Ltd. gained 1.2 percent after a judge ruled that the company can’t be held liable for violating the Clean Water Act during the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010. Swiss Re Ltd. advanced 2.6 percent after reporting first-quarter profit that beat analyst estimates and increasing its dividend.

The Swiss Market Index, a measure of Switzerland’s biggest and most actively traded companies, added 0.1 percent to 6,200.97 at the close of trading in Zurich. The gauge has still fallen 0.6 percent this week as a deal on a second Greek bailout failed to ease concern that the nation’s debt crisis is contained. The broader Swiss Performance Index increased less than 0.1 percent today.

“It’s not surprising to see a sideways movement right now, because we had a decent run in the last five to six weeks,” said Konstantin Giantiroglou, head of investment advisory at Neue Aargauer Bank AG in Brugg, Switzerland. “Company news at Swiss Re, like the other insurance companies that reported last week, has generally been good. The big factor is how people now digest the Greek news and whether the whole euro zone problem will flare up again.”

The 17-nation euro economy will contract 0.3 percent in 2012, the European Commission said today, revising a November forecast of 0.5 percent growth. The downgrade was mainly because of projected contractions of 1.3 percent in Italy and 1 percent in Spain.

German Economy

German business confidence rose for a fourth month in February. The business climate index in Europe’s largest economy increased to 109.6 from 108.3 in January, the Munich-based Ifo institute said. The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg was 108.8.

Transocean rose 1.2 percent to 45.59 Swiss francs. The Switzerland-based owner and operator of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico is not liable for violating regulations. U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier ruled yesterday that the government would have to prove Transocean’s liability in a trial before it seeks fines from the company.

Swiss Re climbed 2.6 percent to 54.40 francs after it posted fourth-quarter net income of $983 million, compared with the $299 million forecast of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. It also raised its dividend for 2011 to 3 francs from 2.75 francs the previous year.

Of the eight SMI companies that have reported quarterly earnings since Jan. 9, only Swiss Re has exceeded analyst estimates, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Sulzer AG added 3.7 percent to 125.10 francs after posting 2011 net income of 279.8 million francs, exceeding the average analyst forecast of 260 million francs.

--Editors: Andrew Rummer, Will Hadfield

To contact the reporter on this story: Namitha Jagadeesh in London at njagadeesh@bloomberg.net

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


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