The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange stared down the bear stalking global markets and ended sharply higher on Thursday in heavy trading, thanks to the expiry of the September Maof (TA-25 ) options contract.

After opening on a 10-minute delay due to unusually sharp movements in certain stocks and indexes, the shares comprising the blue-chip index led the market higher on turnover of NIS 1.2 billion, unusually high volume even for a Maof expiry session. The contract was set at 1,1762.25.

The benchmark TA-25 index ended up 1.9% at 1,189.25 points. The TA-100 finished 1.2% higher at 1,054.58, while the TA-Banking index jumped 3.6% to 979.31. For the holiday-shortened week, the TA-25 was up 0.7%.

Yesterday's TASE performance stood in sharp contrast to European markets. Although European shares closed a touch higher in thin trade, lifted by expectations for an economic stimulus in China, they fell over the two days the TASE was closed for Yom Kippur and remain haunted by uncertainty about Spain's fiscal reforms.

On Wednesday, as workers engaged in violent protests in Greece and yields on Spain's 10-year bond jumped above 6%, the Euro STOXX 50 index of euro zone blue chips closed 2.7% lower at 2,498.52, the biggest one-day drop since early August. It finished up 0.3% yesterday at 2,506.06.

Shlomo Meir, CEO of DBM Investment House, said several factors aside from the Maof expiry contributed to the positive atmosphere in Israel. He cited reduced fears of an Israeli attack on Iran and the approaching end of the third quarter, which is causing provident and pensions funds to bid up prices and boost their quarterly performances.

The TA-Technology index ran sharply against the market trend, finishing down 2% at 354.20. Semiconductor company Mellanox led the way lower with a 4.8% tumble, recovering from a 7.2% drop earlier in the session.

Scailex remained in focus, dropping 4.7% yesterday, since the board of its 44.5%-owned Partner Communications decided a week ago to suspend for 2012 its policy of paying automatic dividends. The Israel Securities Authority has asked Scailex to detail how this will affect the company, whose earnings are entirely reliant on the Partner dividend.

Bezeq ended 4.2% higher, adding to a 4% gain on Monday. The company announced a dividend of 55 agorot a share, or an aggregate NIS 1.5 billion. The shares went ex-dividend at the end of last week, but the stock quickly recouped nearly the entire loss. Bezeq's parent company, B Communications, jumped 7.5% yesterday, helping raise the TA-Communications index 2.8% to a 481.98 close.

ILDC Energy, rose 1.1%, extending Monday's 4.1% gain, while its energy-exploration partner Modiin ended down 4.3% for the day. The two said Sunday they were starting drilling at the Sara well after their other concession, Myra-1, came up dry earlier this month.

David Azieli's Azrieli Group said yesterday it had successfully completed its purchase of Granite Hacarmel shares that it didn't already own. Granite, a holding company, will be delisted from TASE trading after a 20-year run. Azrieli was forced to raise its offering price 30% to NIS 5.49 in order to entice investors. Azrieli ended 0.6% higher.

Meanwhile, DNA Biomedical Solutions surged 36% after it reported "good" interim results on its Phase I clinical trials of an oral osteoporosis treatment.

 

With reporting by Reuters