Tel Aviv stocks fell hard on resurgent fears in global markets of a disorderly Greek default on massive bond debt. While oil prices eased toward $123 a barrel as Iraq and Saudi Arabia stepped up production to offset Iranian threats, a deadline for private bondholders to swap debt with the Greek government - and lock in a huge loss - is fast approaching.
Greece's creditors have until tomorrow night to accept a bond swap in which they would lose almost three-quarters of the value of the bonds they hold.
Meanwhile, China cut its growth forecast, and analysts are saying Europe is highly unlikely to evade recession. Thus did Israeli stocks fall firmly across the board, but not as hard as Europe did.
Over here, the benchmark TA-25 index lost 1.5% to 1,076 points and the broader TA-100 index lost 1.5% to 986 points. The worst-hit of the major Tel Aviv indexes was the Real Estate-15, which dropped 2.4%, but no index was spared. Total turnover remained paper-thin at NIS 900 million.
In Europe, the losses were more severe; none of the continent's leading indexes beat the trend yesterday. Germany's DAX index ended the day down 3.4%. London's midcap benchmark, the FTSE-250, fell 2.4% and France's CAC-40 lost more than 3.5%. Nor was there any succor from the United States; stocks were down around 1.5% at midday in New York.
Over in Tel Aviv, the most active stock was Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, which lost 0.8% on pitiful turnover of NIS 63 million. It was followed by phone company Bezeq, which despite the strong Buy recommendation from Merrill Lynch this week fell 0.2% on turnover of NIS 55 million.
On the TA-25 index, only one stock bucked the blah: Nice Systems, which inched up 0.5% on decent turnover of NIS 15 million. The biggest loser was food manufacturer Strauss Group, which fell 4% on turnover of NIS 3 million.
It could be a blip or it could reflect the nascent consumer boycott against the company. To recap briefly, Israelis were nastily surprised to discover that one of the firm's candy bars, a favorite called Pesek Zman, was selling in New Jersey for less than half the price in Israel. The boycott, however, might have been nipped in the bud by a sudden candy sale, ostensibly in honor of the Purim holiday.
Also bucking the trend were technology company Liveperson, which climbed 1%, and Avgol - a maker of nonwoven textiles - which rose 0.9%. Those were the biggest gainers of the day.
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