Business in Brief

Gasoline prices rising 3.6% Saturday night

Gasoline prices will be going up as of midnight Saturday night by 3.6%, or 26 agorot a liter, nearly wiping out the 4% price drop for May. The maximum permitted price at the pump for self-service 95 octane fuel will rise to NIS 7.52 a liter. The ceiling price is set by the government based on prevailing gasoline prices in Europe, but are also affected by the exchange rate, which over the past month have seen the dollar strengthen. In addition, fuel prices will be boosted by the simultaneous increase in the value-added tax from 17% to 18%. ‏(Avi Bar-Eli‏)

Unemployment increased to 6.9% in April

Unemployment among Israelis 15 or older rose to a seasonally adjusted 6.9% in April from 6.6% in March, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported yesterday. Among men, the jobless figure increased to 7.0% from 6.7% and among women to 6.7% from 6.4%, the CBS said. The last several months have seen volatility in the unemployment rate, but the April rate was the highest since last November’s 7%. The unemployment rate among those 25 to 64, the primary age group of those in the workforce, rose to 6.1% from 5.8%. However, the percentage of that group participating in the labor force increased to 79% from 78.5% in the two months, it added. ‏(Moti Bassok‏)

Housing starts declined in the first quarter

Residential construction starts declined by 3.4% in the first quarter of the year compared with the same time last year, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported yesterday. The news comes as the government struggles to contain rising home costs, which economists say is mainly a function of short supply. On the other hand, the number of new homes on which construction was completed during the first quarter rose by 5% from the same quarter in 2012. Construction on about 10,300 new homes began in the January-March period while building was finished on about 9,480 units. Fully 28% of all housing starts during the first three months of this year were in the center of the country. ‏(Nimrod Bousso‏)

Ofer Vaknin