Market Report

TA-25 Ends 2013 With Rise of 12.1%

Dollar weakens to 3.47 shekels, euro to 4.78 shekels.

The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange ended its last day of the year with moderate gains, locking in double-digit increases for its two benchmark indices in 2013. The dollar extended its losses, leaving it at close to 3.47 shekels.

The TA-25 index of blue chips posted steady gains throughout a thin trading session, ending up 0.8% to 1,329.29 points on turnover of just 948 million shekels. The broader TA-100 climbed 0.8% as well, to end the year above the 1,200 mark, closing at 1,207.69.

For the year, the TA-25 ended with a gain of 12.1% while the TA-100 advanced 15.1%. In fact, the gains were also posted in the last four months of the year, with the TA-25 peaking December 1 at 1,377.79.

Bank shares led the market higher Tuesday, with Mizrahi Tefahot Bank up 2%, Bank Leumi ahead 1.65%, Bank Hapoalim up 1.3% and Israel Discount Bank rising 1.2% by close.

Energy shares were also up sharply after Delek Group said it was weighing a plan to spin off its energy business and possibly list its overseas interests. Delek Group rose 3.75%, with its subsidiaries Avner finishing 2% higher, Delek Drilling up 1.5% and Cohen Development ahead 2.3%.

Ratio, which is not part of the group but is a partner with Delek and Noble Energy in the Leviathan natural gas field, advanced 2.5%.

U.S. stocks were set to close 2013 at record levels, with world equity markets close to six-year peaks Tuesday, while benchmark bond yields were poised for their first annual rise since 2009 in anticipation of stronger global growth in 2014. MSCI’s all-country world equity index.MIWD00000PUS was up 0.18 percent at 408.16 Tuesday, its highest since late 2007. It has gained 20% this year.

In late morning New York time, the Dow Jones industrial average had gained 0.2% to 16,535.16. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was also up 0.2% at 1,845.20 and the Nasdaq Composite Index ahead 0.33% at 4,168.05. The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index was up 0.3% at 1,315.22 points, while the euro zone’s blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index rose 0.3% to 3,109.02 points. The indices reaped gains of 16 % and 18%, respectively for 2013

In local foreign currency trading, the dollar weakened another 0.2% in thin trading to a Bank of Israel rate of 3.4710 shekels. The euro lost more than 0.1% to 4.7819 shekels.

Currency trader FXCM noted that trading has been unusually volatile in recent days as foreigners are off for the Christmas-New Year’s holiday. “Nevertheless, the pressure on the exchange rate remains heavy and there is a risk of a major downward breakout,” it warned. “From a technical viewpoint, the dollar-shekel rate is vulnerable to a drop down to very dangerous levels of 3.38 to 3.42 shekels.”

In the fixed-income market, the Tel-Bond 20, 40 and 60 indices posted declines of as much as 0.3%. The government’s shekel bond ended virtually unchanged, leaving its yield at 3.65%, but its inflation indexed bond for the same term dropped 0.15%, raising the yield to 1.53%.

The decision of the finance and agriculture ministries, announced late on Monday, to reduce controlled prices on dairy products weighed on the shares of Strauss Group and Mivtah Shamir, the two publicly traded companies in the sector.

Strauss, Israel’s second-largest maker of dairy products, fell 1.5%. Mivtah Shamir, a major shareholder in the No. 1 producer Tnuva, dropped 3.4%, making it the biggest loser among TA-100 shares. Strauss and Tnuva will likely see profits fall due to the price reductions.

Israel Chemicals fell 1.2% to 28.93 shekels. Excellence Nessauh said in a report released Tuesday that the imminent revival of the world potash cartels would have little benefits for ICL, the world’s six-largest maker. Excellence left its rating on the shares at Market Perform,with a target price of 30 shekels.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Ofer Vaknin