Shares on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange ended the week moderately lower Thursday, with generic drug maker Perrigo leading the way down.
Meanwhile, in foreign currency trading, the dollar got pounded.
The TASE’s benchmark TA-25 index edged down by 0.09% to 1,225.26 points, which left it down 0.5% for the week. The broader TA-100 finished 0.2% down at 1,101.46, leaving it 0.6% lower for the week. Turnover was a modest NIS 831.2 billion across the market.
The TASE’s performance remains lackluster by global standards. While U.S. and European shares have hit a rough patch recently, they remain close to record highs. But the TA-25 is up a mere 3.3% so far this year, while the TA-100 is up 5%.
Wall Street stocks fell Thursday as investors turned defensive, due to growing worry that Friday's monthly report on U.S. nonfarm payrolls will be weaker than expected, on top of several other lackluster economic data points this week.
In early afternoon trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 0.5% at 14,883.66. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was off 0.4% at 1,602.97 and the Nasdaq Composite Index was down 0.4% at 3,386.67.
Fears of disappointing jobs data also caused the dollar to fall sharply against the yen and euro Thursday , hitting levels not seen in months as investors shed greenbacks.
The euro hit a high of $1.3304, its highest level since late February. The dollar also hit a low of 95.96 yen, its lowest point since mid-April, in early afternoon North American trade before rebounding slightly to 97.24 yen, which is still down 1.9%.
The dollar lost heavily against the shekel as well, shedding 0.6% of its value to a Bank of Israel rate of NIS 3.6490. The euro also weakened, albeit considerably less so − just 0.2%, to end at NIS 4.7854.
The Bank of Israel said Thursday that it bought $950 million in foreign currency last month, of which $230 million was in the framework of its forex-buying program aimed at weakening the shekel.
“In practice what we’re witnessing now is the first correction after the sharp rise [in the dollar], after the Bank of Israel announced a rate cut and the launch of its dollar-buying program,” said currency trader FXCM. “The break below NIS 3.65 will hasten the decline to the next support level, where the dollar will range between NIS 3.61 and NIS 3.62.”
Joseph Papa, chairman and CEO of Perrigo, was due to ring the opening bell to start trading Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange, but back in Tel Aviv investors were striking a different note: Shares of the maker of generic over-the-counter drugs dropped 1.9% on turnover of NIS 68.3 million, making it the most heavily traded stock of the day.
Other big losers were concentrated in the technology sector. Prolor, the biotechnology company that has agreed to be acquired by Opko Health, posted the sharpest loss among TA-100 shares, with a 3.7% drop. Allot Communications shed 3.1%, Given Imaging suffered a 2.1% decline and biotech company Kamada dropped 2%.
Collplant, which is developing medical treatments from the tobacco plant, jumped 16.4% by close. The company said a key patent had been approved in the United States that would enable it to develop orthopedic and other treatments using materials based on proteins and polysaccharides.
Other gainers included Pluristem, which advanced 1.5%, after having plunged 11.2% the day before because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration suspended a clinical trial the company was undertaking, citing an allergic reaction by one of the patients involved.
FIBI Holdings, the parent company of First International Bank, was the biggest gainer among TA-100 stocks, rising 3% after the lender said it would resume paying dividends. Delek Automotive was up 2.9% by the close and food maker Osem finished 1.8% higher.
With reporting by Reuters