Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.
Outside the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange in Tel Aviv, Israel, August 13, 2013. Photo by Bloomberg
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The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange lost ground across the board Wednesday, falling deeper into the red in the final hours of trading as investors cashed in on profits and amid concerns that the United States Government could cut incentives spurring that country’s economy.

The blue-chip Tel Aviv-25 Index lost 0.6% to close at 1,343 points, while the broader Tel Aviv-100 Index also lost 0.6% to close at 1,203 points. The Mid-Cap 50 closed with deeper losses, of 1.1%, while technology shares closed down 0.4% and the Real Estate-15 closed down 0.3%. Oil and gas shares bucked the trend, gaining 0.9%.

Total turnover was NIS 1.12 billion, which is close to the average of late.
Stock markets worldwide slipped on Wednesday after a budget deal in Washington removed some of the fiscal uncertainty hanging over the economy, boosting expectations the U.S. Federal Reserve may soon start reducing stimulus. European shares eased in late trade, as increased certainty over U.S. government spending following a budget deal there was overshadowed by growing expectations that the Fed would scale back stimulus. Shares wilted in Japan as well, as Hong Kong shares posted their heaviest loss in nearly four months.

The Halman-Aldubi investment house released its forecast for 2014, stating that it expects the positive trend on Ahad Ha’am Street to continue next year. “We expect the party on the stock exchange, a result of an influx of cheap money, will continue. As a result, the TA-25 is likely to reach 1,500 points next year. But bubble characteristics are likely to develop in the corporate bond field so one needs to choose bonds selectively, particularly shorter-term bonds, in the name of limiting risk,” it stated.

Notable local shares included Space Communication, which gained 8% on the news that controlling shareholder Shaul Elovitch intends to sell control of the company. The company operates the Amos communication satellites.
Opko Health lost 11.5% on one of the day’s highest turnover.

Meanwhile, analysts are increasingly predicting that the deal to sell 30% of the rights to the Leviathan gas prospect to the Australian energy giant Woodside Petroleum is likely to fall through, or at least be carried out under significantly different conditions. Investment house IBI cut its recommendation for the Tamar partners Delek Drilling, Avner Oil Exploration and Isramco from Buy to Neutral. The companies’ shares gained 1.7%, 1.65% and 1.3%, respectively.

IDB Holdings’ shares continued drawing attention on Wednesday, falling 1.6%. The debt arrangement that would take control of the company from Nochi Dankner amd trasnsfer it to Argentinian-Jewish businessman Eduardo Elsztain and Moti Ben Moshe is expected to receive court approval on Sunday. IDB Holdings’ share lost 18.7% on Tuesday, after falling 17% on Monday.
The Delek Group, controlled by Yitzhak Tshuva, is renewing attempts to sell its controlling share in insurance company Phoenix. It has four to six years to sell the company as part of the new law on limiting economic concentration. Delek gained 2.7%.

Meanwhile, the country’s biggest banks, Hapoalim and Leumi, are planning to shutter at least 10 branches in Israel’s big cities next year. Over the past year, the two banks shut down 12 big city branches, primarily in Tel Aviv, and their working plans for next year call for shuttering branches at a similar pace. Hapoalim lost 1.3% on Wednesday, while Leumi lost 0.3%.

With reporting by Reuters.