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Despite relatively sharp losses on the European exchanges yesterday, the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange traded most of the day down a slight half percent, but towards day's end, it headed further south, closing down by one percent in the wake of losses in New York.

The Maof closed down by 1.35 percent at 383.3 points, the TA-100 slipped 1.2 percent to 370.9 percent and the Tel-tech was off by 0.76 percent.

Market sources said the relative strength of the Tel Aviv exchange was due to a paradox created by the international crisis; in contrast to the regional escalation, the situation in Israel is improving. The decline in the level of attacks and efforts by the Palestinian Authority to keep a lid on the situation have also affected the rate of the dollar.

The dollar dropped yesterday by 0.3 percent, closing at NIS 4.306. Traders said that another factor behind the fall in the dollar was the date, the 15th of the month, when many companies, especially those trading on Wall Street, convert dollars to shekels to pay VAT.

Bank Leumi fell 1.35 percent on news that Finance Minister Silvan Shalom has decided to sell controlling interest in the bank through the bourse rather than to a strategic investor. Market sources said recently the bank had retained a relatively high value compared to other banks, and now that a large number of shares would come into the market, investors were concerned about a fall in the share price.

They added that the financial institutions expect similar yields from the country's two largest banks, and therefore, while Bank Hapoalim is cheaper, there is logic in switching holdings between the two. Hapoalim attracted a heavy turnover of NIS 20 million and traded up for most of the day before finally closing unchanged.

Partner gained 0.6 percent, the only Maof share trading up yesterday. Koor Industries slipped 4 percent and Bezeq fell 2.5 percent.

Opgal makes $4 million sale to Canadian military

Opgal Optronic Industries, a subsidiary of Rafael and Elbit Systems, has made a $4 million sale of its electro-optical integrated night/day vision system to the Canadian army. The observation systems will be installed on armored vehicles. Opgal hopes to receive a further $5 million in orders as part of a project being carried out by its parent company, Rafael, for the Canadian military. The Hurricane system will be exposed for the first time at the Microtech 2001 electro-optics and microelectronics convention, which opens today at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds.