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Israeli shares inched up yesterday as the sun shone down on the Middle East, while investors in the West hunkered down to brave the storms.

Blizzards slammed into the east coast of the United States, leading to paper-thin trading in New York. Over in Europe, snow coating the cities had much the same effect. Turnover was slim and stocks tended to hover just over the flatline, then to end just beneath it, where there was any trading at all - London had closed for the day. Trading there resumes today.

French shares ended about 1% down, German stocks ended half a percent up. But the markets reported extremely slim volumes, a quarter of the 30-day average.

Over here, as summer staged a comeback, the story was Makhteshim-Agan Industries. Its stock gained 6.7% on the day's highest turnover, a quarter-billion shekels, as the deal for its sale to ChemChina took final shape. (See story on Page 8. )

The benchmark TA-25 index gained 0.2% to end at 1,206 points and the broader TA-100 index advanced the same. The biggest index gainers were the Tel-Div, which rose 1%, and the Real Estate-15 index, which added 0.7%, though no companies stood out. The biggest gainers among that pack were Nitsba, which added 1.8%, and British Israel, shares of which gained 1.6%. Alony Hetz was among the index's few losers, falling by 0.7%.

Total turnover was NIS 1.7 billion, a bit below the NIS 2 billion daily average in 2010.

Bank Hapoalim is opening a branch in China. (See story on Page 8. ) Its stock gained 0.5%.

U. Dori gained 2% after the company managed to raise NIS 64 million by expanding a series of bonds. Meanwhile, investors may have been clammy to the collaboration CollPlant closed with Edwards LifeSciences Corporation to co-develop prototype products for cardiac applications. The Israeli company's stock inched down 0.2%.