Stocks rose again yesterday on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, despite the continued barrage of rockets over the southern part of the country during the sixth day of Operation Pillar of Defense.
Nonetheless, investors seemed to be optimistic, though the low trading volume made the day's gains somewhat deceptive, as large numbers of investors are still waiting on the sidelines before deciding what to do with their money.
European shares rose yesterday afternoon as they opened the trading week, in the hope that a solution may have been found for the U.S. "fiscal cliff." In response, the TASE also climbed as the day went on.
The blue chip TA-25 index rose 0.6% to close the day at 1,206 points. The benchmark index spent almost the entire day in the green, and all the major indexes closed higher.
The broader TA-100 index rose 0.7% to end the day at 1,063 points. The TA-Banks index gained 0.9%, and the Real Estate-15 index climbed 1.6%.
The Oil and Gas Exploration index jumped 2.2%. The Biomed index rose 1%, and the BlueTech-50 index gained 0.4%.
Turnover was again light, as it has been since the latest round of fighting in the south started last week. Total volume was NIS 720 million.
Bond markets moved in the opposite direction of stocks, and the large-cap corporate Tel Bond-20 index lost 0.1% for the day. The other TelBond indexes lost up to 0.2%.
Israel Chemicals drew the most attention with NIS 77 million in turnover for the day, over 10% of total trading volume. The share rose 1.2%.
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries had the second-highest turnover, NIS 43 million, but the share was unchanged for the day.
Bank Hapoalim rose 1.7%, Bank Leumi gained 1%, and First International Bank of Israel rose 1.4%.
Asia Development soared 45% - for no apparent reason - but turnover in the share was a measly NIS 226,000.
Commtouch rose 2,5% after it reported that it s had acquired eleven GmbH, which controls 36% of the German market for managed email security, in a cash and stock transaction of $11 million plus milestone payments.
The shekel also strengthened yesterday, despite the fighting. It seems forex traders expect a lull in hostilities sometime soon, and in any case the present round of fighting will not last for the long term, and therefore will not seriously affect the Israeli economy.
The shekel rose 0.3% against the dollar yesterday, and the representative rate was set at NIS 3.940. The euro also weakened against the local currency, down 0.2% to a representative rate of NIS 5.0305. The euro rose against the dollar yesterday in global forex markets.
"The strongest sign that the war in the south does not influence the market players is the shekel," said Ronen Matmon of Excellence Nessuah.
Asian markets also rose strongly, and the Nikkei hit a two-month high yesterday. The pan-European FTSEurofirst stocks index extended gains to 2% yesterday, getting a fresh boost from a strong rise on Wall Street and stronger-than-expected U.S. housing data.
Over the weekend, leading Democratic and Republican lawmakers expressed confidence that they could reach a deal to avert the "fiscal cliff," even as they laid down markers on raising taxes and spending cuts that may make any agreement more difficult.
Shelly Appelberg and Reuters contributed to this report.
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