Bloomberg News

Swiss Stocks Advance as U.S. Consumer Sentiment Increases

May 25, 2012

Swiss stocks rose, wrapping up the first weekly advance this month, as U.S. consumer confidence jumped to the highest level since October 2007, outweighing speculation the euro-area debt crisis is deepening.

Transocean Ltd., the biggest operator of offshore drilling rigs, climbed 0.9 percent. UBS AG (UBSN) and Credit Suisse AG dropped, limiting gains on the benchmark Swiss Market Index. Syngenta AG (SYNN), the world’s biggest crop-chemicals company, fell 0.5 percent after settling litigation involving U.S. water utilities over the herbicide atrazine.

The SMI (SMI) added 0.2 percent to 5,865.19 at the close in Zurich, bringing this week’s increase to 1.2 percent. The gauge has still retreated 1.2 percent this year amid concern Greece may fail to implement austerity measures and leave the euro currency union. The broader Swiss Performance Index rose 0.2 percent today.

“Stocks are caught between the harsh realities in Greece and the hope politicians and central bankers will step up to the challenge,” said Witold Bahrke, a senior strategist at PFA Pension A/S where he helps oversee $55 billion. “We’re so close to the brink that investors begin to expect some kind of intervention, though politicians probably won’t do so till the European summit in late June.”

The volume of shares changing hands in SMI-listed companies was 19 percent lower than the average of the last 30 days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

U.S. Consumers

A U.S. report showed the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan final index of American consumer sentiment climbed to 79.3 in May from 76.4 the prior month. The gauge was projected to hold at the preliminary reading of 77.8, according to the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti told television station La7 yesterday that most of the EU leaders at a Brussels meeting this week backed joint euro-area bonds. He added that Italy can help persuade Germany to support Europe’s “common good” as well.

“Europe can have euro bonds soon,” Monti said.

Monti’s comments followed a meeting on May 23 when leaders clashed over joint debt sales as they called on Greece to stick with budget cuts needed to stay in the euro.

Transocean rose 0.9 percent to 41.53 francs. Oil rose for a second day after U.S. consumer confidence climbed and the United Nations’ atomic agency found evidence that Iran may be moving closer to producing higher-grade nuclear fuel.

UBS and Credit Suisse declined 0.9 percent to 11.15 francs and 1.4 percent to 19.09 francs.

Syngenta dropped 0.5 percent to 304.30 francs. The company, which agreed to pay $105 million to settle litigation involving U.S. water utilities over the herbicide atrazine, filed an agreement with a district court in Illinois yesterday. The charge is partly covered by provisions, and the effect on 2012 earnings will be about 50 U.S. cents a share.

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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