Market Report / Wall Street Lifts Tel Aviv

The TA-25 index of blue chips rose 0.6% Thursday to a finish of 1,079.13 points, bringing its weekly gain to 2.8% and its year-to-date gain to 2.1%.

Led by Wall Street overnight, Tel Aviv Stock Exchange ended higher Thursday and for week. The TA-25 index of blue chips rose 0.6% Thursday to a finish of 1,079.13 points, bringing its weekly gain to 2.8% and its year-to-date gain to 2.1%.

The TA-100 also rose 0.6% Thursday to 1,081.17. For the week it was up 3.3% and for the year so far 3.1%. Turnover for the day was just over NIS 1 billion. The stronger performance of the TA-100 reflects the growing interest of investors, especially retail investors, in small- and medium-capitalization stocks, said Assaf Shaul, deputy CEO for investments at Alfa Platinum Mutual Funds.

The TA-Midcap 50 ended Thursday up 1.5% at 459.33. The index has advanced 9.7% so far this year, three times the rate for the heavy capitalization TA-25. "The stock market is being characterized by rises for small and medium-cap shares," Shaul said. "It seems that investors believe in the local share market and are choosing to play it by investing in small shares which, experience shows, have usually have risen more sharply than larger cap stocks."

While Wall Street rallied overnight, giving a push to the TASE to go higher, the trend reversed itself Thursday, with major global stock markets falling after the European Central Bank's chief said policymakers would monitor the impact of a rising currency and cited downside risks to the bloc's economy. In Britain, the FTSE 100 closed down 1.1% to 6,228.42. On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 0.7%, at 13,888.95. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was off 0.6%, at 1,502.50, and the Nasdaq Composite Index down 0.7%, at 3,145.26.

Dollar down

In the foreign currency market, the dollar weakened to a Bank of Israel rate of NIS 3.687, close to its 15-molnth low. The euro strengthened to NIS 5.003, gaining 0.06% on the Israeli currency. Teva Pharmaceuticals slipped 1% in heavy trading of NIS 54.9 million shares, making it the day's volume leader.

The world's biggest generic drug maker posted adjusted fourth-quarter profit that missed expectations by one cent but raised its quarterly dividend by 15%. Teva earned $1.32 per share, excluding one-time items, in the fourth quarter on revenue of $5.25 billion. But the company was forecast to earn $1.33 a share on revenue of $5.26 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The property company Azorim rose 2.5% on news that its CEO Ofir Greenberg was stepping down. The company said he would be replaced by Dror Nagal, who is an Azorim director and chairman of Menorah Insurance Mutual Funds. Nagal was previously CEO of Phoenix Investments. Elco Holdings rose 5.4% by the close of trading on the back of reports that it planned to float shares in its U.S. real estate unit at a valuation of $1 billion.

Discount Investment Corporation lost 0.6%. Nochi Dankner's holding company said it planned to sell off blocs of shares in some of its key holdings, including Cellcom Israel, Koor Industries and Property & Building for a total of NIS 150 million. The sales aim to calm creditors concerned that the company won't be able to make repayments on its debt. In the bond market, Elbit Imaging was the center of attention, whose Series Gimmel bonds fell 7.4% to a junk yield of 69%. Bondholders rejected a plan by the company not to make a payment due February 20 in its Series Aleph and Bet bonds. Bonds of IDB Development Corporation, another Dankner holding company, dropped 4.5% to yield 29%.

Investors holding its Series Zayin through Yod bonds are due to meet February 14 to decide whether to appoint official representatives to negotiate a debt restructuring plan with IDB. Procognia soared 19.6% Thursday after the biotechnology company said for laboratory results of cells it has developed for growing a generic version of Abbot Labs Humira treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and other ailments.

Oil exploration company Ratio declined a little more than 2% after a reporting that the planned sale of 30% of its rights in the giant Leviathan natural field to the Australian energy company Woodside would be delayed for several months. The reason, it appears, is the need to clarify regulatory issues, particularly the ceiling on gas exports. Among the bigggest losers of hte session, Compugen dropped 3.8% and Babylon 3.4%. Top gainders inlcudedDelek Auto , which rose 4.5.%.

AP