Retailers rack up sales during a sunny Purim

Retailers were the happiest of all on Purim this year, a survey of store and mall owners by TheMarker found. The spring-like weather and the timing turned Purim into a long holiday weekend that brought out shoppers. "The long holiday this year really benefited commerce, which doubled," said Tali Tzioni, head of marketing at Ariel Promall, which operates 35 shopping centers. Special programs for children helped draw crowds, who were looking for entertainment more than shopping, managers said. Hay Galis, deputy CEO at Big Shopping Centers, said that at his Be'er Sheva mall police estimated that 25,000 people visited on the actual Purim holiday, Sunday. Cinemas adopted the same strategy, with the YES Planet saying it lured viewers with activities like face-painting. (Gabriela Davidovich-Weisberg )

Public's financial assets grew 5.8% last year

The public's financial assets climbed 5.8% after inflation to NIS 2.7 trillion last year, the Bank of Israel reported yesterday. The rise came mainly in government bonds, whose value jumped 17.2% over the year, or by NIS 52 billion. The value of tradable corporate bonds held by the public grew 8%, or NIS 18 billion. The public's domestic stock portfolio overcame a sharp decline in the second quarter to increase 4.2% for the year, or by NIS 16 billion. Its overseas equity holdings increased 14%, or NIS 29 billion, due to both an increase in value and because the public invested more of its money abroad, the central bank said. (Moti Bassok )

Hot Mobile lays off 40 employees

Hot Mobile, the cell phone arm of Patrick Drahi's Hot group, has laid off 40 employees in sales and at headquarters as part of a cost-cutting drive, the company said yesterday. "We have been forced to adjust our personnel levels to our needs and the changing reality of the communications market," the company said. The layoffs come just over nine months after the company launched operations, during which it recruited some 450,000 subscribers. But in an intensely competitive market, Hot Mobile has yet to turn profitable. (Amitai Ziv )

Adelson sues The Wall Street Journal for libel

Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson sued a Wall Street Journal reporter last week for libel for calling him "foul-mouthed." The lawsuit filed on February 22 seeks "damages, including aggravated, exemplary and special damages" for a December 5 article written by Kate O'Keeffe and Alexandra Berzon. Only O'Keeffe is named in the suit, The Journal reported Monday. In their December article, "Fired Executive Rankles Casino Business," the two reporters highlighted the wrongful termination lawsuit filed by Steve Jacobs, the former chief of Las Vegas Sands Corp. in Macau, China. The report compares Jacobs and Adelson, saying "In some ways, Mr. Jacobs ... couldn't be more different from Mr. Adelson - a scrappy, foul-mouthed billionaire from working-class Dorchester, Mass." (JTA )