Market Report / TASE Ends Little Changed in Heavy Trading

The TA-25 index closed up only 0.04%, and the TA-100 edged just 0.06% higher. Turnover was a massive NIS 2.2 billion.

The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange's benchmark TA-25 index squeaked out a small gain for the final day of the trading week on Thursday, after shedding most of the earlier gains it posted overnight on the back of a stronger Wall Street.

The TA-25 index closed up only 0.04%, at 1,240.51 points. The TA-100 edged just 0.06% higher to end at 1,104.11. Turnover was a massive NIS 2.2 billion, with nearly NIS 300 million in shares traded in Teva Pharmaceuticals alone, adding 1.6%.

Trading in Israel Chemicals nearly matched that, reaching NIS 281 million as the shares dropped 0.7%. U.S.-Israeli drug maker Perrigo saw NIS 143 million in turnover on a 0.2% gain, while Migdal Insurance rose 0.9% on volume of NIS 102 million.

For the week, the TA-25 index rose 1.1% to bring its year-to-date return to 4.6%. The TA-100 ended up 0.7% for the week, boosting its increase so far for 2013 to 5.2%.

Global equity markets and the dollar rose on Thursday. The iconic Dow was set to extend its winning streak to 10 days, after signs of a labor market recovery underpinned sentiment that the U.S. economy is gaining traction.

The European FTSEurofirst 300 of leading regional shares was at its highest level since mid-2008, up 0.85% for the day. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.4% at 14,513.50, and the Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 0.3% at 1,559.88.

The dollar rose to a seven-month high against a basket of currencies and a three-month peak against the euro. It was lifted by data showing the current account narrowing in the fourth quarter and other encouraging economic reports during the week. Against the shekel, the U.S. currency rose 0.2% to a Bank of Israel rate of NIS 3.700. The euro sagged, falling 0.15% to NIS 4.7846.

Bezeq climbed 2.5% on turnover of NIS 36 million. Israel's largest telecommunications company said it earned NIS 519 million in the fourth quarter of last year, beating analysts' expectations of NIS 415 million, and just slightly below the NIS 524 million it recorded a year earlier. Revenue slipped 7.6% to 2.45 billion, exceeding expectations of NIS 2.43 billion.

Bezeq helped lift the TA-Telecommunications index by 2.5% to 517.87 points. Shares in Partner Communications also climbed 2.9% and Cellcom Israel added 2.4%.

Super-Sol rose 1.3%. The food retailer said it had spun off some NIS 1.2 billion in property assets, including 68 branches, to a newly formed real estate unit in exchange for bonds. The company plans to lease back the stores.

The information technology firm Matrix advanced 1% after it said it boosted fourth-quarter 2012 operating profit by 16% to NIS 37 million, double its revenue increase, which grew 8% to NIS 510 million.

Jerusalem Economic Corporation, Eliezer Fishman's property investment company, led TA-100 stocks higher, gaining 5.5% for the session. David Zvida, now CEO of Darban Investments, will replace Oded Shamir as JEC's CEO, the company announced on Thursday.

Other top gainers were TowerJazz, which extended its recent gains with a 4.6% rise on Thursday, and EZchip, which advanced 3.1. Ceragon Networks advanced 2.9% after the wireless backhaul company said it closed on three-year secured credit loans worth $73.5 million from lenders led by Bank Hapoalim, with an additional credit of up to $40.2 million for bank guarantees.

Among the biggest losers in the session were the biotechnology company Compugen, which dropped 7.4%, and semiconductor company Mellanox, which fell 2.6%. The financially troubled technology company Orckit plunged 20% amid doubts that a deal to sell its patents for $5 million to a unit of Hudson Bay Capital Management would pass muster with investors and the government's Office of the Chief Scientist.

Reuters contributed to this report. 

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