Business in Brief

Gas prices to rise 25 agorot a liter from Sunday

Gasoline prices are due to go up from midnight Saturday by 25 agorot, or 3.3%, to NIS 7.85 a liter for self-service 95-octane fuel. The increase is more than double what had been expected just over a week ago before tensions over Syria raised global oil prices by 3.9% over what they were a month ago. Higher oil prices account for 16 agorot of the increase at the pump starting Sunday. Another five agorot comes from an increase in tax (blau) and higher value-added tax the remaining four agorot. Price have fluctuated this year from a high of NIS 7.95 a liter in March to a low of NIS 7.26 two months later. (Daniel Schmil)

Jobless rate down sharply to 6.3% in July

The unemployment rate dropped sharply in July from June to 6.3% from 6.7%, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported yesterday. The figures also showed that the number of people employed full time, meaning 35 hours a week or more, rose 0.6% in the month while the number working part-time dropped 2.3% The number of women working full-time rose to 66.4% from 65.1% in June. The labor force participation rate rose to 76.8% of the workforce from 76.2% in June, the CBS said. (Haim Bior)

Housing starts dropped 6% in first half

The number of new residential construction starts fell 6% in the first half the year compared with the same period in 2012 to 20,630 units, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported yesterday. In Tel Aviv, the number of starts plunged 47% to 750, nearly two thirds less than the 1,810 in Jerusalem, where the number of starts jumped by 71%, the CBS said. The Housing Ministry said that the rate of starts nationwide remains high and that it is taking step to ensure it accelerates. But land sales by the Israel Lands Authority dropped last year and have only partly recovered thanks to very big tenders underway in the new town of Harish. Applications for building permits have fallen and the stock of unsold new homes has dropped by 6% in the past year. (Arik Mirovsky)