TA-25 Ends Higher as Israel Chemicals Extends Its Gains

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Tel Aviv shares ended an otherwise down week on a modest rise on Thursday, tracking the trend in Europe, with Israel Chemicals again dominating trading activity. The dollar sunk to a two-year low.

The TA-25 index of blue chips rose 0.2% to a finish of 1,202.85 points while the broader TA-100 added just over 0.1% to 1,097.66 as some NIS 939.1 million shares changed hands. The day's gain, however, did not save the market from a down week: The TA-25 lost 0.4% and the TA-100 0.1%.

The week's top gainer among share indices was the TA-Biomed index, which rose 3.3% to bring its year-to-date gain to 1.65%. The two leading indices, by comparison, have risen a mere 1.5% and 4.6%, respectively.

ICL rose for a second day on Thursday, gaining 1,.5% on turnover of NIS 192.1 million, making it by far the day's most active stock. The market appeared to applauding ICL's strategic plan (see story on page A8), which calls for among other things listing share overseas, cutting costs and diversifying operations.

The Israel Corporation, ICL's parent company, finished the session 2.1% higher.

At mid-day New York Thursday, stocks on Wall Street were little changed after three days of declines as investors took profits following last week's record highs. In Europe, however, they ended higher.

The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 0.1% to 15,448.82, but the Standard & Poor's 500 Index edged up nearly 0.1% to 1,692.36 while the Nasdaq Composite Index was off 0.4% to 3,667.19. European shares on the FTSEurofirst 300 index provisionally closed up 0.2%. 

The dollar fell to a seven-week low on Thursday, as investors reversed trades that had been fueled by speculation of when the Federal Reserve would start to remove its stimulus. The greenback lost heavily against the shekel, as well, weakening nearly 0.5% to a Bank of Israel rate of NIS 3.5390. The euro edged down 0.05% to NIS 4.72.83.

Bonds were mixed yesterday after the Finance Ministry reported that the fiscal deficit was narrowing and that it would likely end this year and next at a much lower amount than the state budget projects. Unlinked shekel bonds for 10 years rose 0.03% to bring yields to 3.74% but inflation-indexed Galil bonds for the same term fell 0.32%, with yields rising to 1.62%.

TowerJazz plunged 7.2% after the semiconductor maker reported yesterday that it earned $18.2 million in the second quarter, down from $44.8 million a year earlier, while revenue slid 26% to $125.2 million. The company attributed the declines to a contractual decrease in sales to Micron.

Allot Communications made a sharp U-turn, dripping 6.7% Thursday, a day after rallying 4.9%. Ormat followed the same trajectory, declining 2.9% yesterday after rising sharply the day before on a strong second-quarter report by its Ormat Technologies unit.

Leading rising stocks on the TA-100, Noch Dankner's Discount Investment Corporation added 3.4%. Its Super-Sol supermarket unit reported a 19% increase in second-quarter net profit to NIS 43 million although revenues barely grew. The report came a day after another Discount’s company, Given Imaging, also turned in good quarterly results. Super-Sol shares ended unchanged.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Inside the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. If you started feeling wealthy in 2013, restrain yourself, because 2013 was an extraordinary year, not an average one. Credit: Ariel Shalit