Market Report / Political Jitters Hit the TASE

Oren Freund
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Oren Freund

The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange opted not to join the early rally in Europe on Monday as it turned its eyes to the growing unrest in the West Bank and back at home to the slow pace of coalition talks.

Following a long Purim holiday weekend, the benchmark TA-25 index finished at 1,220.67 points, a gain of 0.2% while the broader TA-100 advanced 0.2% to 1,089.14. Turnover was a tepid NIS 819 million shekels.

In fact, Europe's rally faded quickly. Shares had been up strongly early in the day after the first polls from a crucial election in Italy showed that the pro-reform center-left was well ahead of former premier Silvio Berlusconi's conservative bloc. But it shed all those gains after a projection by Italian television later in the day showed Berlusconi's party leading in elections for the Senate vote.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index, which had been up by around 0.5% before the RAI TV projection was published, trimmed those gains to leave the index up by 0.1% to 1,166.34 points.

Back at home, over 10,000 Palestinians attended a funeral procession near Hebron for Palestinian detainee Arafat Jaradat.

Meanwhile, Israel's coalition talks are stuck and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not laid out guidelines for an agreement with any prospective coalition talks with any seriouspartner. “There are no talks via any serious conduit,” said a source at one of the parties on Sunday.

Participants were also hesitating while they awaited the Bank of Israel’s decision over the interest rate for March. The bank said after trading that the base rate would remain unchanged at 1.75%.

In foreign currency trading, both the dollar and euro posted strong advances on the shekel. The greenback was fixed at a Bank of Israel rate of NIS 3.71, a gain of just over 1% for the day. The euro advanced nearly 1.2% to NIS 4.8984.

“Finally we’re seeing the signs of a correction in dollar-shekel,” said currency trader FXCM. “After three week of trendless trading in a narrow range of NIS 3.66 to NIS 3.71 and a failed attempt last week to break out the bottom, the dollar-shekel rate made a sharp reversal in the past two days of trading last week.”

Israel Chemicals led the most actives, with more than NIS 80 million in shares changing hands, on an 0.9% rise. ICL said yesterday that its Performance Products operating segment agreed to acquire the phosphorus pentasulfide business assets of gERMANY’S Thermphos International BV.

Motti Zisser’s Elbit Imaging skidded more than 18%. A NIS 240 million class action, the first filed against Zisser and its directors in Tel Aviv court for failing to make payments due to holders of its short-term Aleph and Bet series bonds.

A Jewish settler, dressed in costume, stands near Israeli soldiers as they guard a parade for the holiday of Purim in Hebron, February 24, 2013. Credit: Reuters