Business in Brief

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The shekel's rise is hard to stop. Credit: Reuters

Dollar sinks to lowest level in more than three years
The dollar dropped to its lowest level against the shekel in more than three years Thursday as the greenback weakened globally. The dollar fell 0.38% to a Bank of Israel rate of 3.4450 and was down to 3.4360 in late trading. The euro edged 0.08% higher to a Bank of Israel rate of 4.6941. The dollar was driven lower around the world after the U.S. Federal Reserve signaled that over the long run interest rates would be lower than it had previously indicated. Since March 27, the shekel has strengthened 1.7% against the dollar. “Without government involvement besides that of the Bank of Israel, it’s only a matter of time before a wave of layoffs and business closings hit the headlines,” said Yossi Fraiman, CEO of Prico Risk Management. (Shelly Appelberg)

Delek in pact to sell 36% of U.S. insurer
Delek Group, Yitzhak Tshuva’s holding company, said Thursday it had agreed to sell a 36% stake in its U.S. insurance unit Republic Group for $80 million, less than the 55% stake it had said in April it was offloading. Under the agreement, the buyers, a group of private U.S. investors, have an option to acquire Delek’s remaining 64% in the insurer over the next three years in two tranches. Delek, which has been selling assets to raise capital and focus on its emerging energy business, said it wouldn’t register an accounting gain on the sale. In any case, the cash will help repay loans from Bank Leumi’s U.S. unit used to acquire Republic eight years ago. Delek seeks to sell its 53% stake in Israeli insurance company Phoenix. Delek shares closed 0.9% lower at 1,412 shekels ($409.51). (Asa Sasson and Michael Rochvarger)

Teva, Bezeq, banks push Tel Aviv stocks higher
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Bezeq and bank shares led the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange higher in heavy trading on Thursday. The benchmark TA-25 index finished 0.4% higher at 1,404.60 points, bringing its weekly gain to 0.5% as around 1.16 billion shekels ($340 million) in shares changed hands. The TA-100 also advanced 0.4% to close at 1,266.42, climbing almost 0.7% for the week. Bond prices also posted sharp gains, with the government’s 10-year shekel bond adding 0.45% to put its yield at 2.86%. Its 10-year Galil bond jumped 0.5%, cutting its yield to 0.69%. Teva was the volume leader, rising 2.1% to 183.70 shekels one day after its controversial chairman Phillip Frost said he would step down. Bezeq rose 1.4% to 6.26 shekels, while Bank Hapoalim added 1.4% to 20.45 and Bank Leumi rose 1.3% to 13.71. Among losers, Compugen snapped a three-day rally to fall 3.6% to 31.20 shekels. (Shelly Appelberg)

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