Telecommunications stocks led an otherwise listless day on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange on Monday as shares remained mixed for a second session and trading tepid. In foreign currency trading, the dollar continued to lose ground against the shekel.
The TA-25 index of blue chips rose 0.25% to a close of 1.229.49 points as the TA-100 added 0.2% to 1,112.14.Turnover was well under NIS 1 billion, with just NIS 726 million shares changing hands. Even volume leader, Teva Pharmaceuticals, managed to attract just NIS 37.5 million of trading.
Telecommunications stocks were the only sector to show much activity and that was mainly due to Bezeq. Israel's biggest telcom extended a rally that apparently has been generated by increased foreign buying after a road show by management, rising 1.1% yesterday on volume of NIS 21.1 million. Cellcom Israel rose 1.5%.
In the foreign currency market, the dollar lost more ground against the shekel, staying well below to NIS 3.60 line. The greenback, which has been under pressure globally, lost 0.3% to a Bank of Israel rate of NIS 3.5710. The euro, however, edged 0.09% higher to NIS 4.7019.
Bond prices extended their rally, with the government's 10-year Shahar bond up 0.23% by the close, trimming its yields to 3.65%. Inflation-indexed Galil bonds for the same duration rose 0.4% to cut their yield to 1.52%.
The lackadaisical atmosphere on the TASE remained in stark contrast to world stock prices, which rose to near five-year highs yesterday. That reflected growing investor optimism after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe strengthened his power base, adding weight to his plans to jumpstart the world's third-biggest economy. The mood was also helped by a pledge from G20 nations on Saturday to put growth before austerity to revive the global economy, which the bloc said was "too weak.
MSCI's world index, which tracks stocks in 45 countries, gained 0.44% to 375.51, helped by a 0.5% rise in Tokyo's Nikkei index. It was about seven points below a five-year high set in late May. In midday trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.08% at 15,556.30 and the Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 0.2%, at 1,695.36. The pan-European FTSEurofirst index provisionally closed 0.1% higher at 1,210.70.
In TASE equities trading, Nochi Dankner's holding company Discount Investment Corporation jumped 8.3% after its Koor unit's board had approved a change in its investment policy that will enable it to sell shares in Swiss bank Credit Suisse. The board made its decision in the wake of a recovery in the price of Credit Suisse shares in the past year as well as the possibility of a merger between Koor and Discount.
Brainsway, the maker of a device to treat depression, rose 4.1% after the company updated figures on the number of orders it has in hand for its Deep TMS system. The company said it had 50 right now and that it would end 2013 with about 100 commercial installations.
Top gainers among TA-100 stocks included online translation company Babylon and retailer Alon Blue Square, both of which ended the session up 2.4%/
With reporting by Reuters.