Market Report / Biomed and Tech Lead TASE Higher

Despite a drop in energy shares on reports of technical problems at the Tamar gas field, the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange edged up with help from Prolor Biotech and others.

The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange rose on Wednesday, led by technology and biomed shares after OPKO Health agreed to buy Israel-based biopharmaceutical company Prolor Biotech for stock worth about $480 million.

Shares of Prolor jumped 8.8%, the biggest gain among stocks in the TA-100 Index, to NIS 22.96 on turnover of NIS 17 million, although OPKO's New York Stock Exchange price was falling yesterday, reducing the value of the acquisition. Other biotech stocks to climb included Pluristem, which rose 4.8%m, and Brainsway, which added 1.8%. The TA-Biomed Index ended the session up 1.56% at 8,946.37 points.

Other tech shares rallied as well, with the TA-BlueTech 50 up 1.6% closing at 304.59. The index was pushed higher by wireless backhaul equipment maker Ceragon, which advanced 5.5%, and semiconductor foundry TowerJazz on a 4% gain. Defense electronics company Elbit Systems finished 1.9% up after it reported securing $40 million to supply intelligence analysis and cyber defense systems to an unnamed African country over the next two years.

Bank shares were also strongly ahead, with the TA-Banking index gaining 1.5% to finish at 1,124.46.

The TA-25 Index of blue chips and the broader TA-100 both finished 0.6% higher at 1,215.02 and 1,086.41, respectively. Turnover was a relatively light NIS 884 million.

European shares chalked up a fourth straight session of gains on Wednesday, helped by some upbeat corporate results and mounting speculation about further easing of monetary policy in theeuro zone. The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index provisionally closed 0.7% higher at 1,191.64 points.

Wall Street traded flat to lower after a report said U.S. durable goods recorded their biggest drop in seven months in March, tempering enthusiasm over what has so far been a relatively robust U.S. earnings season. The Standard & Poor's 500 Indexfinished up 0.06 % at 1,579.73 while the Nasdaq Composite Indexwas down 0.1% at 3,264.74.

Global equity markets, as measured by MSCI's all-country world equity index rose 0.5% to 363.02

In foreign currency trading, the shekel gained on the dollar and the euro. Against the greenback, the Bank of Israel rate was set at NIS 3.6190, a drop of 0.17% for the U.S. currency. The euro, meanwhile, edged 0.03% down on the shekel to NIS 4.70 to 8.

On the TASE, energy shares took a beating on news that technical problems at the Tamar natural gas field caused deliveries to be suspended. Delek Group, which controls two of the Tamar partners, dropped 2.9%, although the units themselves – Delek Drilling and Avner – ended higher.

Isramco, another partner, lost 1.3%. Meanwhile, Shemen plunged 1.35% on heavy trading of NIS 7 million, capping a 33% drop over the past 10 days. The stock has been on the skids since the partnership drilling at the Yam-3 site off the coast of Ashdod suspended drilling due to technical problems

Idan Ofer's Israel Corporation rose 2.3% after UBS analyst Roni Biron reiterated his buy rating of the holding company. Biron said the market is overpricing the possibility that Israel Corp. will have to inject more cash into its troubled Zim unit and undervalues the potential contribution of its IC Power and Qoros units. He said Israel Corp.'s 50% net asset value was excessive.

Shares in Bank Mizrahi-Tefahot traded heavily, with NIS 49.2 million shares changing hands following the announcement of its long-serving CEO, Eliezer Yones, that he would be stepping down a year from now. The stock dropped sharply on the news late in the session but recovered to end 0.4% higher.

With reporting by Reuters.

Bloomberg