Swiss Market Tumbles As Virus Fears Trigger Sell-off

The Switzerland stock market ended sharply lower on Friday, in line with markets across the globe, as rising worries about growth following reports about detection of a new and possibly vaccine-resistant coronavirus variant in South Africa hurt investor sentiment.

The benchmark SMI ended with a loss of 250.47 points or 2.01% at 12,199.21, after plunging to a low of 12,157.50.

UBS Group declined 5.8% and Richemont shed about 5.1%, while ABB and Swiss Re both closed lower by about 4.2%.

Credit Suisse, Alcon, Zurich Insurance Group, Holcim, Swiss Life Holding, Novartis, Partners Group and Sika ended lower by 2 to 3.5%. Swisscom, Nestle and SGS also ended sharply lower.

Logitech gained more than 4%. Lonza Group rallied 3.6% and Givaudan ended with a modest gain of 0.62%.

In the Swiss Mid Price Index, Dufry declined 12%. Swatch Group ended 7.1% down and Flughafen Zurich lost 6.8%. Helvetia and Baloise Holding drifted down 4.5% and 4%, respectively.

Clariant, Julius Baer, OC Oerlikon Corp, PSP Swiss Property, Adecco and AMS ended lower by 3 to 4%.

Zur Rose climbed 8.6% and Tecan Group rallied nearly 5%. SIG Combibloc, VAT Group and BB Biotech gained 0.9 to 1.1%.

In economic news, Switzerland's economic growth slowed slightly in the third quarter, but the expansion was better than expected, preliminary data from the State Secretariat For Economic Affairs or SECO showed.

Gross domestic product grew 1.7% from the second quarter, when the economy expanded 1.8%. Economists had forecast 1.6% increase.

Compared to the same quarter a year ago, GDP increased 4.1% after an 8.6% growth in the previous quarter. Economists had forecast 3.2% expansion.

Value added grew significantly in the services sectors due to the further easing of Covid restrictions and private consumption rose substantially, SECO said.

Overall, GDP was more than 1% higher in the third quarter than the pre-crisis level seen in the fourth quarter of 2019, the SECO added.

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