Tel Aviv stocks gained ground yesterday on moderately high turnover of NIS 1.5 billion.
Share prices had started the Tuesday session in the red and then rose above the flatline at mid-day when futures showed Wall Street opening with a bounce.
The TA-25 index finished a firm 1 percent higher at 1,068.6 points and the TA-100 index gained 0.7 percent to 1,043 points. Bonds also gained ground on Tuesday: fixed-income Shahars gained 0.2 percent and linked long-term Galils rose by 0.3 percent, after starting the day with losses.
The session had started in the red as investors reacted to losses on Wall Street the night before. However, as futures on Wall Street indicated gains to come, share prices rebounded, and gained momentum in the afternoon.
Local investors sat out the session with bated breath, waiting to learn what the Federal Reserve Board under Ben Bernanke would do about interest rates. What he did was probably surprising to many.
Bernanke was widely expected to cut the Federal funds rate by 0.25 percent, from 5.25 percent (where the rate has been since last summer) to 5 percent.
However, after the market closed in Tel Aviv - he surprised the pundits by cutting rates 0.5 percent. However Tel Aviv investors will only be able to react to the Fed's move today.
Bernanke's rate cut is an admission that the subprime crisis and subsequent world-embracing credit squeeze need to be taken seriously. The interest rate cut lowers the cost of cash for America's banks, enabling them to shore up liquidity at lower cost.
Meanwhile, over in Tel Aviv, shares of the Tiv Taam supermarket chain lost another 4 percent, building on their 3.6 percent drop the day before, after news broke of its latest brawl with the consumer affairs show Kolbotek.
Tiv Taam claims that it's being framed by disgruntled ex- and present workers and can prove it. Kolbotek claims to have footage of cats ambling through one of Tiv Taam's food plants, sampling goodies to their hearts' content. Tiv Taam wants Kolbotel to wait before airing the material. Kolbotek wants to broadcast it as the season premiere.
Over here, the Real Estate-15 index gained 0.6 percent, lifted in part by large-cap Africa Israel, which gained a hefty 1.5 percent.
Another real estate giant, Gazit Globe, controlled by Chaim Katzman and Dori Segal (see the feature on Page 12) gained 0.3 percent. But from the year's start, shares in Gazit Globe have lost 20 percent. Today the talk of the town was the battle for control that Katzman and Segal are evidently whipping up over Ormat Industries, an Israeli company that specializes in geothermal and recovered-heat energy generation. In short, green power. Katzman and Segal have obtained a 17 percent interest in Ormat, while Yehudit and Lucien (Yehuda) Bronicki own 28 percent.
If anything the battle has heated up Ormat's share price: it's gained 10 percent in the last month, which is a significant amount considering that the benchmark TA-25 index gained 2 percent in that time. Yesterday shares of Ormat gained 0.7 percent more on heavy turnover.
The Banks-5 index gained 1.2 percent, bringing its gain over two trading sessions to 2.9 percent. That's mainly because Israeli banks are shrugging at the credit crisis jolting world markets - "Not over here," is their message. Bank Hapoalim shares gained 0.8 percent on the day's highest turnover, NIS 200 million, even though Deutsche Bank yesterday lowered its 12-month price target for Hapoalim stock.
Bank Leumi shares gained 1.6 percent on a volume of NIS 142 million.
Shares of real estate company Pangaea shot up 5.2 percent on relatively lively trading on news that the company, along with another Israeli company - Electra, which belongs to Gershon Salkind, had signed a deal to buy $100 million worth of land in St Petersburg. The land in question is huge, 24 dunams (6 acres). They don't mean to develop it themselves, but have plans to build no less than 25,000 housing units on it using contractors.
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