Bloomberg News

Most Swiss Stocks Decline as Greece Calls New Elections

May 15, 2012

Most Swiss stocks fell as Greek parties called new elections after failing to form a government, offsetting a report showing that Germany’s economy expanded at a faster pace than forecast.

Julius Baer Group Ltd. (BAER), the Swiss wealth manager established in 1890, declined. Health-care companies dropped, with Nobel Biocare Holding AG sliding 1.6 percent and Actelion Ltd. (ATLN) also losing 1.6 percent.

The Swiss Market Index (SMI) fell 0.2 percent to 5,865.16 at the 5:30 p.m. close in Zurich, retreating from an earlier advance of as much as 0.4 percent. Eleven stocks in the index fell, seven rose and two were unchanged. The measure yesterday dropped to its lowest level since Dec. 22 as Greece’s May 6 election left it struggling to form a government, raising concern it may exit the euro. The Swiss Performance Index lost 0.3 percent today.

“Nervousness over the economic implications of a potential Greek exit will keep business and investor confidence down, making it less likely that firms will go out and invest and hire workers, further undermining the European growth story,” said James Knightley, senior economist at ING Groep NV in London.

Greek President Karolos Papoulias tried to persuade party leaders today to accept his proposal for a government of prominent non-politicians to steer the country, avoiding the need to hold new elections.

New Elections

Greek Pasok party leader Evangelos Venizelos said new elections will be held after attempts to form a government failed.

Greece is to repay 435 million euros ($556 million) of bonds falling due today. The country will pay the principal and interest on foreign law notes which weren’t tendered into its debt restructuring, the Athens-based Finance Ministry said in an e-mailed statement. The repayment won’t prejudice future decisions on other untendered bonds, the ministry said.

The German economy, Europe’s largest, grew five times more in the first quarter than economists had forecast. Gross domestic product rose 0.5 percent from the fourth quarter, when it fell 0.2 percent. Economists had predicted a 0.1 percent gain, according to the median of 40 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey.

German investor confidence fell to 10.8 from 23.4 in April. That’s the first decline since November and the first since August, according to the ZEW Center for European Economic Research in Mannheim.

“As for German growth numbers, they are encouraging, but only tell us what has happened in the previous three months and nothing of what is about to happen,” Knightley said. “The plunge in the ZEW survey is worrying and underlines the nervousness caused by political uncertainty.”

Julius Baer Falls

Julius Baer declined 6.1 percent to 32.11 francs as revenue earned on assets under management dropped in the first four months of this year.

Nobel Biocare, (NOBN) the world’s second-largest dental implant maker, retreated 1.6 percent to 9.89 francs after Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. cut the stock to market perform, the equivalent of neutral, from outperform.

Actelion, Switzerland’s biggest biotechnology company, dropped 1.6 percent to 38.05 francs.

Sonova Holding AG (SOON) fell 1.1 percent to 95.10 francs and Lonza Group AG (LONN) lost 1.9 percent to 37.09 francs, its lowest price since at least November 1999.

Newron Pharmaceuticals SpA (NWRN) surged 37 percent to 5.51 francs, the most since at least December 2006, after saying its experimental treatment for Parkinson’s disease succeeded in late-stage clinical trials and the company sold rights to the drug to Zambon Co. Chief Executive Officer Luca Benatti will leave the company. Stefan Weber, the chief financial officer, will replace him.

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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