New York, New York (PressExposure) August 06, 2011 -- [http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2011/07/24/bloomberg1376-LOVQ9Q07SXKX01-36O5335J5N0UV0AIIJQMF1DV27.DTL]
Swiss stocks retreated, with the benchmark Swiss Market Index failing to build on last week's gains, as Democrats and Republicans didn't agree to increase the U.S. debt ceiling.
Credit Suisse Group AG led banking stocks lower, sinking 3.9 percent. Zurich Financial Services AG, UBS AG and Julius Baer Group Ltd. all declined at least 1.5 percent. Roche Holding AG advanced 2 percent after BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research upgraded the world's biggest maker of cancer drugs.
The SMI, a measure of the largest and most actively traded companies, slipped 0.2 percent to 6,017.49 at the 5:30 p.m. close in Zurich. The SMI has declined 10 percent since its peak this year on Feb. 18. The broader Swiss Performance Index decreased 0.3 percent today.
"The strong Swiss franc put some pressure on Swiss stocks," said Benno Galliker, a trader at Luzerner Kantonalbank AG. The uncertainty about the debt ceiling in the US and "the realization that nothing has really changed in Europe" has helped the franc strengthen.
The Swiss currency strengthened to a record against the dollar as demand for the currency as a refuge increased. Switzerland's franc gained 2.1 percent to 80.21 centimes per dollar, the highest on record. The currency appreciated 2 percent to 1.1575 versus the euro, and reached a record of 1.13737 on July 18.
U.S. Debt Limit
U.S. lawmakers failed to agree to extend the statutory limit on the country's debt, increasing concern that the world's biggest economy may default on Aug. 2. House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio pursued a two-step debt-limit extension that Obama has threatened to veto.
Financial stocks led declines as a gauge of lenders fell the most of 19 industries in the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, losing 2.8 percent. Credit Suisse slumped 3.9 percent to 29.65 Swiss francs. Zurich Financial Services retreated 1.5 percent to 198.90 francs, UBS lost 2.9 percent to 13.90 francs and Julius Baer Group Ltd. slid 3.3 percent to 34.86 francs.
Syngenta declined 1.5 percent to 265.10 francs after Goldman Sachs downgraded the shares to "buy" from "conviction buy." The world's largest maker of agricultural chemicals retreated for a second day.
Roche advanced 2 percent to 145.90 francs for the biggest advance in the SMI. BofA Merrill Lynch upgraded the world's biggest maker of cancer drugs to "buy" from "neutral."