Bank of Israel bought $1.44b in dollars in June

The Bank of Israel purchased an unprecedented sum of $1.44 billion on the market last June, boosting Israel’s foreign currency reserves to $78.22 billion by the end of the month, the central bank reported yesterday. Of that $1.44 billion, the bank said $240 million was bought in the framework of the bank’s new program to offset the effect of natural gas production on the exchange rate, and the remainder in an effort to shore up the dollar locally. But the future role of the central bank in currency markets has now become less clear as incoming governor Jacob Frankel vehemently objected to intervening in the currency markets. ‏(Moti Bassok‏)

Australia’s Woodside reportedly holding back Leviathan payment

The Australian company Woodside Petroleum is holding back on an initial $696 million payment due as part of its agreement to take a 30% stake in the Leviathan natural gas field, The Australian daily reported over the weekend. It said the company declined to comment on the move but it is believed to be directly tied to the government’s decision to reduce the exports ceiling for natural gas. Woodside had been expected to export at least half of Leviathan’s gas and is now re-examining the viability of the project. ‏(TheMarker staff‏)

Hamas nabs shekel counterfeiters in Gaza

Gaza’s Hamas authorities said yesterday they had broken up a counterfeiting ring that had printed millions of dollars worth of fake shekels. Police spokesman Ayyoub Abu Shaar said the authorities uncovered the ring last week when they traced a man trying to distribute a counterfeit 100-shekel bill. The man led authorities to a gang and some NIS 20 million in fake bills. Abu Shaar says the money was confiscated before it was put into circulation. It was the largest counterfeiting ring discovered in Gaza since Hamas took control in 2007. ‏(AP‏)