The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange finished a particularly volatile session on Wednesday to close mixed, with several leading indexes closing unchanged. Trading was influenced by quarterly reports, as publicly traded companies have until the end of the month to file their financials for the first quarter of this year.
Tel Aviv bucked international trends as shares rose around the world. European equities climbed to a new five-year high on Wednesday after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said the central bank would retain its monetary stimulus measures until the economy improved. In Asia, the Nikkei average climbed 1.6 percent to a fresh 5-1/2-year high on Wednesday, spurred by the Bank of Japan's optimism about the economic outlook.
U.S. shares also opened in the green, jumping 1 percent before paring those gains.
The blue-chip Tel Aviv-25 Index and the broader Tel Aviv-100 Index closed unchanged, at 1,233 points and 1,109 points respectively. The Banks-5 increased 0.25%, while the Real Estate-15 also closed unchanged. The index of communication shares lost 1.2%, one of the steepest losses for the day, pulled down by telephony company Partner, which lost 4% after publishing its financials.
Turnover was lighter than it has been for the past few days, at NIS 895 million.
Partner, which does business as Orange, reported that revenues were down 30% to NIS 900 million compared to the parallel quarter in 2012, and it lost 44,000 cell phone customers, leaving it with a total of 2.93 million. Net profit was down 79% to NIS 31 million.
Ayalon Group chief strategist Yaniv Pagut noted that the cellular stocks were the TA-25's big losers this month. Partner's reports have shown again the difficulties facing the big three cellular providers now that the market has shifted to include new competitors, he noted. The three communications companies on the TA-25 – Bezeq (which owns Pelephone), Partner and Cellcom – were the index's worst performers for the month, down 10%, 8% and 7.5% respectively, he noted. However, Bezeq is also that index's biggest gainer for the year, he added.
Bond markets were mixed with a positive bias amid expectations that the Bank of Israel would cut interest rates soon. Shekel-denominated government bonds gained 0.6%, while 10-year bonds gained 0.4%.
Elbit Imaging lost 1%. The company, controlled by Moti Zisser, is under growing pressure from lenders to Zisser's group, which owes a total of NIS 3.8 billion. Elbit's parent company Europe Israel owes NIS 1 billion to Bank Hapoalim, while Elbit has NIS 2.5 billion in debt to bondholders, NIS 47 million in debt to Leumi and NIS 300 million to Hapoalim.
Hapoalim gained 0.2%, while Leumi closed unchanged.
Ceragon Networks gained 2.1%, a day after it unveiled two new products developed for the American market at the convention in Las Vegas of CTIA, also known as The Wireless Association. The products are designed to increase cellular networks' capacity by more than 30% than competitors' products.
Blue Square Real Estate, controlled by Alon Holdings, reported Tuesday that its first-quarter profits totaled NIS 24 million, 12.5% less than in the parallel period of 2012. Revenues were NIS 60.2 million, a 7.1% increase over the parallel. Blue Square Real Estate closed virtually unchanged, while Alon lost 1%. Blue Square Real Estate is the real estate arm of the Mega supermarket chain.
Notable gainers Wednesday included Pluristem, which closed up 3.8%, and Property and Building Corp, up 3.6%.
Shares that lost ground included Allot Communications, down 4%, and the dual-listed Given Imaging and TowerJazz, which both lost 3.2%. Mellanox lost 2.6% following reports that the company is to be delisted.
With reporting by Reuters.
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