Hope is a many-splendored thing, and apparently it awakened anew on world markets, which generally gained ground Wednesday as Greece's bond-swap prospects improved. Which means, more lenders reluctantly came on board, accepting that they'll get just a fraction of their money back - which clears the way for a bailout package that should avert a chaotic default.
Banks, insurers and pension funds holding bonds worth a total of around 120 billion euros have already declared they will take part.
Lovely. The news sent Israeli stocks inching up on teeny turnover of NIS 780 million. Leading Israeli indexes were green almost across the board; the one holdout was the Biomed index, which fell by 0.9%. The benchmark TA-25 index gained 0.3% to 1,080 points, and the broader TA-100 index gained 0.3% to 988 points. All gains were around that region.
Gains in European markets were just a little firmer than in Tel Aviv, with most benchmark indexes finishing the day about half a percent higher. While there were some dips below the flatline in morning trading, all ended firmly in positive territory. Oil prices also reflected the relative cheer of the day, bouncing back yesterday. The euro also gained ground against the dollar but eased down against the shekel to NIS 5.
The story of the day was Generali's sale of its controlling interest in Migdal to banker and insurer Shlomo Eliahu according to a company valuation of NIS 6 billion, reflecting a 12% premium over yesterday's opening share price. News of the deal sent Migdal stock up 2.7%.
On the other side of the planet, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suggested in Washington that international sanctions might not deter Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Shares of the defense electronics manufacturer Elbit Systems gained 0.7%.
Cellcom delivered a miserable report for 2011 and its shares fell 1.6%. The mobile operator said net profit fell 76% in the fourth quarter of 2011 to NIS 76 million. Most of that will be paid as a dividend to shareholders. Its controlling shareholder is Nochi Dankner's IDB group.
Aura stock lost more than 5% despite its trustee managers receiving five offers to buy the company, which has taken shelter from creditors under the court's wing.
ILDC Energy on the other hand gained 6% even though it tried to raise NIS 30 million the day before yesterday, and didn't quite make it. Orders for its units reached NIS 21 million, which means its underwriters will have to fork over NIS 9 million to buy the units themselves.
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