Market Report Hapoalim Stock Wilts on Top-level Rumbles

The negative trend on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange picked up momentum shortly before closing, leading the TA-25 index to double its loss to 0.6 percent yesterday. The TA-100 index retreated by half a percent to 12,047.3 points, but if trade was characterized by anything, it was selectivity. Shares of Israel Chemicals, for instance, gained 1.5 percent but Bank Hapoalim stock lost 1.7 percent.

Total turnover was very thin at NIS 1.1 billion.

On the first trading day of September, Israeli stocks leaped 1.9 percent, partly driven by a positive trend on Wall Street. August 2007 had been a dreadful month for share prices: the leading indexes lost more than 5 percent.

Yesterday banks took a pounding, with Hapoalim sinking 1.7 percent on the report that its chairman Danny Dankner asked external director Amir Barnea to resign. Shares of rival Bank Leumi fell 1.3 percent and Bank Discount lost 1 percent.

While on the banks, Irit Izakson will shortly be named chairwoman of Isracard, which is a subsidiary of Bank Hapoalim. Izakson is an associate of Shari Arison, who is the sole controlling shareholder of Hapoalim. She replaces Danny Dankner, who recently assumed the chairmanship at Bank Hapoalim after Shlomo Nehama was elbowed out.

The Real Estate-15 index lost 0.6 percent but again, a breakdown by shares shows selectivity. Shares of Moti Zisser's real estate vehicle, Elbit Medical Imaging (it has a history of investment in medical technology), gained 1.1 percent on the report that subsidiary Plaza Centers - which focuses on the Indian property market - will be investing $1.2 billion in building about 50 shopping and entertainment centers, in Pune and Bangalore. EMI means to build the centers over five to seven years, according to reports in Mumbai and expects to see sales of $3 billion.

Gazit Globe says it's expanding its investment portfolio beyond yield-generating assets to energy in general, and renewable energy in particular. A natural candidate for investment is Ormat Industries, in which parent company Gazit Inc already owns a 16.65 percent stake, that might be sold to Gazit Globe.

"Green energy" company Ormat gained 0.4 percent on the day's second highest volume of trade, a pitiful NIS 56 million.

Israel Chemicals gained 1.5 percent on encouraging news from the potash sector. Norbert Steiner, CEO of K+S which is the biggest producer of potash for fertilizer in Europe, told the Bloomberg news agency that the company might invest $2 billion in establishing a potash mining operation with a capacity of 2 million tons a year. K+S' present capacity is 8 million tons of potash a year and it's operating at full capacity, Steiner said. In other words, he's expecting heavy demand for potash to continue at least through 2012 and possibly through to 2015.

Shares of MTI Computers lost 2.1 percent, losing some ground after their 20 percent gambol north on Sunday. The impetus behind the gain is the report that Avi Wertheim's company Inspire Investments bought a controlling interest in MTI at a 50 percent premium over its value on the TASE. Yesterday the share couldn't sustain that level, though.

Gmul shares sank by 5.4 percent, after also posting a double-digit gain on Sunday, in its case 25 percent.

Petro Group, which belongs to Arcadi Gaydamak, yesterday reported that Rami Greenbaum has been promoted from VP Business Development to CEO, replacing Asaf Eisenstein. Petro Group shares inched up on tiny turnover.