Market Report / Waiting for Wall Street, TA-25 Rises

The benchmark TA-25 index of blue chips rose 0.5% to close at 1,224.72 points, while the TA-100 ended up 0.4% to 1,091.04 on turnover of NIS 1.08 billion.

Real estate, telecommunications and banking shares led the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange higher on Tuesday, even as investors awaited a cue from Wall Street, which was closed for the Presidents’ Day holiday on Monday.

The benchmark TA-25 index of blue chips rose 0.5% to close at 1,224.72 points, while the TA-100 ended up 0.4% to 1,091.04 on turnover of NIS 1.08 billion.

Teva Pharmaceuticals led the most actives on turnover of NIS 69 million and a 1.2% rise.

The market was led by telecommunications stocks, with Bezeq rising 1.9% on turnover of NIS 49.8 million and Partner Communications up 2.1%. The TA-Telecommunications index was up 1.3% at 508.13.

The Real Estate-15 index advanced 1.1% to 325.26, with Azrieli Group adding 1.9%. Alony Hetz was up 2.8% and Africa Israel Investments by 3.2%, making them the two top gainers among TA-100 stocks on Tuesday.

The banking sector mostly held up well on news that the Bank of Israel was again tightening conditions for mortgage lending. The TA-Banking index rose 1.1% to 1,183.59, led by Israel Discount Bank’s 2.4% rise and a 1.7% gain for Bank Hapoalim.

Only Mizrahi Tefahot Bank’s share were scorched by the news, falling 1.2% as NIS 54.5 million in shares changed hands, making it the second most heavily traded stock of the day. Mizrahi relies much more on home loans than any of Israel’s other lenders.

In Europe, shares chalked up their strongest gains in a week, after losing around 1.5% since the end of January. Following last week’s GDP figures showing a weaker-than-expected end to 2012 in the euro zone, Germany’s ZEW survey of investors and analysts brightened the mood as it comfortably beat expectations and hit its highest level since April 2010.

The FTSEurofirst 300 rose 1.1%, led by a 1.8% gain on Paris’ CAC-40 and a 1.5% rise for Frankfurt’s DAX. On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.31% at 14,025.13 in early trading on Tuesday. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was up 0.42% at 1,526.15, and the Nasdaq Composite Index ahead 0.3% at 3,203.00.

In foreign currency trading, both the dollar and the euro advanced on the shekel. The greenback was up 0.14% to a Bank of Israel rate of NIS 3.683, while the euro edged 0.01% higher to NIS 4.9142.

“The dollar-shekel status quo has been preserved for more than two weeks, with the exchange rate ranging between 3.66 and 3.71. When a financial asset trades for an extended period inside a range, the breakout is likely to shock the market and be strong,” said currency trader FXCM on Tuesday, adding that the breakout was likely to be on the upside given worldwide trends.

Among the major movers on the TASE on Tuesday, three big transactions by an unidentified private investor lifted the shares of auto importer Carasso Motors by 7% in unusually heavy turnover of NIS 10 million. The buyer bought NIS 9 million of the shares at an average of NIS 13, giving them a 1% stake in the company.

Motti Zisser’s Elbit Imaging jumped nearly 20% on turnover of NIS 8 million, the precious minerals explorer Shefa Yamim soared 39.3%, and the cancer diagnostics start-up Micromedic jumped 23.2%.

Online translation company Babylon sunk for a second day in a row, shedding another 3.3% on Tuesday on top of Monday’s 7.2% slide, making it the biggest decliner among TA-100 companies for the session. Babylon reported strong fourth-quarter earnings but investors remain concerned about its outlook.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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