Tel Aviv shares eked out a third day of gains on Tuesday even as other world stock markets headed lower on growing anxiety over America's fiscal impasse. The dollar and the euro both posted strong gains on the shekel.
The benchmark TA-25 index finished the session up 0.1% at 1,282.907 points while the broader TA-100 advanced 0.2% to 1,159.52, as some NIS 1.14 billion in shares changed hands. Telecommunications shares led the market higher, with Bezeq gaining 2.4% on turnover of NIS 64.9 million and Cellcom Israel closing up 1.9%.
Bond prices were mostly lower. The Tel-Bond 20, 40 and 60 indices edged down 0.1% while the government's 10-year Shahar bond dropped 0.11% to a yield of 3.74%. However, its inflation-indexed Galil bond for the same term rose 0.09% to cut its yield to 1.93%.
The TASE's gains were in notable contrast to Wall Street, where in late morning trading stocks were near their lows and a gauge of equity market anxiety rose to its highest in more than three months as concern over a U.S. debt default increased.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 0.5% to 14,854.33, the S&P 500 lost 0.7% to 1,664.2 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 1.5% to 3,713.282.The CBOE Volatility index ticked above 20 for the first time since late June. The yield on the one-month treasuries bill jumped to 0.36% approaching the yield on the two-year note.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index had fallen 0.6% to 1,234.03 points by late afternoon, down for the fourth time in five sessions. The euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index, meanwhile, fell 0.5% to 2,908.32 points.
The only market in Israel that conformed with global trends was foreign currency, where demand for dollars cash outside the United States surged on Tuesday, causing market participants to pay sharply higher premiums to get their hands on greenbacks to tide them over a mid-October deadline to raise the U.S. borrowing limit.
The U.S. currency gained 0.57% against the shekel to a Bank of Israel rate of NIS 3.5610 while the euro added just over 0.5% to NIS 4.8324.
In TASE equities trading Oil Refineries Limited (Bazan) plummeted 18% on turnover of NIS 117.5 million, making it the day's volume leader, while its parent company Israel Petrochemicals lost 1.4%. Concerns that Petrochemicals will have to go back to creditors to reach a new debt-bailout plan have grown as Bazan struggles with a long bout of low oil prices. Debt to Bank Hapoalim, bondholders and others amount to some NIS 1.9 billion.
Among the biggest gainers in Tuesday's trading, Phoenix Assurance added 3.6% and investment company Mivtach Shamir 3.4%. Given Imaging, the maker of a digestible camera for diagnosing digestive ailments, rose 3.1% by close; pharmaceuticals company Kamada rose 2.9%; and Allot, whose technology is used to track wireless traffic, added 2.4%.
The biggest declines for the day came from biotech company Compugen, which lost 2.8%; Lev Leviev's Africa Israel Investments, down 2.6%; and OPKO Healthcare, which joined the TA-25 this week, which fell 2.4%.
BioLineRX jumped 10.9% after it received on Monday U.S. patent approval for the active ingredient in its BL-5010, which is used in the non-surgical removal of skin lesions. BATM soared 20.4% after the TASE said the company would be fast-tracked into key indices, including the TA-technology and BlueTech50. Mazor Robotics finished 7.9% higher after publishing a prospectus for a secondary share offering.
Reuters contributed to this report.