Business in Brief: Knesset Approves Bourse-restructuring Law

Bank of Israel intervention boosts dollar in late trading; Tel Aviv shares end higher, lifted by telecoms and tech.

Stock prices flash on an electronic screen displaying world clocks at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014.
Stock prices flash on an electronic screen displaying world clocks at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. Bloomberg

Knesset approves bourse-restructuring law

After a push by Israel Securities Authority Chairman Shmuel Hauser, the Knesset on Monday finally approved the law turning Tel Aviv Stock Exchange into a for-profit corporation. The legislation to demutualize the TASE reduces the control of its bank members to a 35% combined equity stake within five years from the 71% they have today. New members will be recruited, most importantly among foreign brokerage houses, which should increase competition to sign up investors and reduce trading costs for them.  “The structural change is a revolution that will turn the exchange into a more competitive, cheaper and more efficient bourse, like the most advanced ones around the world,” Hauser said. Backers hope the legislation will reverse the decline of the TASE, which has lost some 200 companies over the past decade as average daily trading volume shrunk to 1.27 billion shekels ($350.4 million) in 2016, down from 1.45 billion in 2015 and 2 billion in 2010. (Assa Sasson)

Bank of Israel intervention boosts dollar in late trading

The Bank of Israel intervened in forex trading on Monday after the shekel posted new gains on the dollar and euro, dealers said. The dollar lost 0.3% against the Israeli currency to a Bank of Israel rate of 3.6190 before the central bank moved to buy up to $300 million in foreign currency and lifted the shekel to 3.6286. The euro, which weakened nearly 0.5% to a Bank of Israel rate of 3.8905, was at 3.9016 in late trading. The shekel has gained on the dollar in nine of the last 11 weeks, currency trader FXCM noted, even though the U.S. Federal Reserve raised interest rates last week, a move expected to strengthen the dollar globally. “The peak that the dollar reached in the wake of President Donald Trump’s election victory, however, is now working against it, and we are seeing a sharp downward correction, both locally and globally,” said FXCM. “The uncertainty surrounding Trump’s fiscal policy is also weighing on the dollar." (Shelly Appleberg)

Tel Aviv shares end higher, boosted by telecoms and tech

Tel Aviv shares ended higher in light trading, getting a boost from telecoms and technology shares. The blue chip TA-35 index finished 0.4% higher at 1,423.59 points, while the TA-125, gained 0.45% to 1,271.12, as 1.1 billion shekels ($300 million) in shares changed hands. Bezeq ended 2.1% higher at 6.50 in heavy trading and Cellcom Israel gained 2.5% to 38.80. The company said on Monday that the Communications Ministry had approved a network sharing and hosting agreement with Xfone. Super-Sol jumped 4.7% in heavy trading to 17.70 after the investment house Excellence raised its rating on the stock to Marker Perform and set a target price of 18.10 shekels. Paz Oil closed up 1.6% to 64 after it reported an 11% rise in adjusted net profit in the fourth quarter to 136 million shekels.  Industrial Building lost 1.4% to 5.09 even though it reported a fourth-quarter net profit of 48 million shekels, turning around from a 119 million loss a year earlier. (Shelly Appelberg)