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Israeli shares ended a turbulent session flat. The day began with modest losses and the leading indexes spent much of the morning below water. Stocks crossed into positive territory from midday and in later trading fell back below the flatline, only to claw back ground and close without change.

The benchmark TA-25 index ended with a slightly positive bias at 1,289 points. The broader TA-100 index ended with a slightly negative bias at 1,169 points. The only indexes that did anything worth mentioning were the TA-BlueTech-50 index (of the top 50 technology stocks by market capitalization ), which lost 1.2%, and the Oil & Gas Exploration index, which lost 0.7%. Total turnover was downright anorexic at NIS 1.3 billion.

No encouragement was to be had from New York, where stocks began with a dip as Tel Aviv neared its close. European stocks lost ground across the board with the exception of Oslo, where share prices ended 0.2% higher. Nor was any correction to sentiment forthcoming from Asia, where the exchanges were mixed with a negative bias.

Why the worldwide wilt? U.S. housing starts and permits for future home construction fell in April, and the ZEW index measuring German analyst and investor sentiment was lower than expected, Reuters reports. Over in Britain, inflation hit a 2.5-year high.

Over here, Tel Aviv circles are wondering if the International Monetary Fund will poach the highly esteemed Bank of Israel Governor, Stanley Fischer, to replace Dominique Strauss-Kahn as chairman. On Sunday night Fischer flew to New York, an dthe rumor mill went wild. But actually he was on a private visit, a point the Bank of Israel underscored by noting that he paid for his own flight.

As for stocks back at home, the most active share yesterday was Israel Chemicals, which gained 1.2% on turnover of NIS 127 million. Bezeq also gained ground, rising 0.9% on turnover of NIS 47 million, though analysts are mixed on the stock, some wondering about its business but slavering at its "super-dividend" to come. Paz Oil gained 1.2%, possibly on a spurt of cheer as goo-in-jet-fuel debacle passes into history. For the nonce.