Swiss stocks push European shares to fresh peaks

LONDON Wed May 15, 2013 11:35am EDT

LONDON May 15 (Reuters) - European shares scaled fresh five-year highs on Wednesday, led by gains for several major Swiss stocks after a currency shift that should continue to buoy the country's exporters.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index provisionally closed up 0.7 percent at 1,245.41 points, its highest level since mid-2008. The euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index rose 0.4 percent to 2,807.58 points.

The Swiss SMI index rose 1.5 percent to outperform other European markets, with gains at pharmaceutical groups Novartis and Roche, and food company Nestle adding most points to the FTSEurofirst 300.

Clarinvest fund manager Ion-Marc Valahu said Swiss companies were benefiting from a fresh fall in the Swiss franc against the euro and U.S. dollar, which would continue to help the country's companies export products.

"The Swiss franc is moving lower and it's benefiting the exporters," he said.

He added it was difficult to justify bets on a broad-market fall in the current environment, due to rate cuts and injections of liquidity by world central banks which have hit returns on bonds and caused investors to move money over to equities.

"It's tough to go against the flow of money coming from the central banks," he said.

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