Shares Fall; Dollar Stays Below NIS 3.5

Tel Aviv-Technology index a bright spot, up 3.9%.

Shelly Appelberg
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Shelly Appelberg

Tel Aviv shares ended down Thursday but off the session lows while the dollar remained below 3.5 shekels despite strengthening.

The benchmark TA-25 skidded to as low as 1,328.30 in early trading amid the expiry of the December Maof contract, but it steadied later in the morning and ended down 0.6% for the day at 1,333.42 points. The broader TA-100 index fell a milder 0.2% to 1,208.50.

For the week, the TA-25 added 0.8% and the TA-100 1.1%. The outstanding performer was the TA-Technology index, which rose 3.9%. It remains a laggard for the year, however, with just a 6.6% return.

Maof trading, which expired with TA-25 at 1,329.4 points, helped lift turnover for the day to a brisk 1.83 billion shekels ($524.1 million).

The TASE’s decline came despite a rise in U.S. equities in holiday-thinned trading Thursday, while Treasuries prices fell after strong economic data added to evidence that could free the Federal Reserve to continue withdrawing its stimulus. The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell last week to the lowest level in nearly a month.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.6% at 16,448.81. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was ahead 0.4% at 1,840.24 and the Nasdaq Composite Index up 0.3% at 4,167.28. European markets were closed for the Christmas holiday.

In foreign currency trading, the dollar appreciated 0.1% to a Bank of Israel rate of 3.492 while the euro gained 0.25% to 4.782 shekels.

The bond market was quiet: The government’s 10-year shekel bond edged down 0.07% to push up its yield to 3.61%. The inflation-indexed bond for the same period rose 0.04% to reduce the yield to 1.47%.

Losers in TASE equities trading were led by B Communications, Bezeq’s parent company, which dropped 2.75%. Bezeq finished 1.5% down for the day. Yitzhak Tshuva’s Delek Group dropped 2.6% with its Delek Drilling and Avner energy units ending lower by 2.1% and 1.9%, respectively. Idan Ofer’s Israel Corporation lost 1.8%.

TowerJazz, the maker of semiconductors, resumed its gains to add 4.25%. The company’s shares soared on news December 20 of a tie-up with Japan’s Panasonic, but subsequently pulled back. Oil Refineries raised 150 million shekels in a rights offering Thursday to help see it through a cash crunch. The offering comes a week after Israel’s biggest refiner raise 90 million shekels in an expansion of its Series Alef bond, and it expects to raise another 90 million shekels from warrants coming due next month.

Reuters contributed to this report.

The number of companies traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange to pay a dividend rose more than 13% last year.Credit: Ariel Schalit

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