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Dozens of Israeli companies are getting prospectuses ready for initial public offerings on Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. They include two major firms that are likely to join the blue-chip Tel Aviv 25 Index, according to Ronit Harel Ben-Ze'ev, deputy director of the TASE.

However, she said at a news conference to sum up 2003, it is hard to predict which of the prospectuses will actually lead to an IPO. This will depend largely on the state of the market in early 2004 since if the market is poor, many companies will postpone the issues.

TASE data for 2003 show that almost every market parameter registered a significant improvement over 2002. Net investment by foreign investors was positive, having been negative for four previous years, while average daily turnover in shares reached NIS 360 million, up from NIS 242 million in 2002 and NIS 285 million in 2001.

The Tel Aviv 25 Index, which plummeted 31.7 percent in 2002, gained 60 percent in 2003. The Tel-Tech 15 Index rose by 125 percent, and the small-cap Yeter 150 Index gained 70 percent. The total market value of all the companies traded on the TASE rose from NIS 199.5 billion at the end of 2002 to NIS 306 billion at the end of 2003.

Many trends continued to improve throughout the year. In the fourth quarter average daily turnover reached NIS 550 million, higher than the daily average in 2000, before the market collapsed. In November, average daily turnover hit NIS 650 million - the highest monthly average since March 2000.

The bond index also gained 15 percent this year, after falling 6 percent in 2002. Daily turnover in bonds averaged NIS 256 million, up from NIS 210 million in 2002.