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TA-25 Index Advances on Geneva Nuclear Accords

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The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange’s TA-25 index hit a new high Sunday on news of the nuclear accord between the P5 + 1 powers and Iran. A record high closing on Wall Street on Friday also helped fuel Sunday’s gains.

The benchmark TA-25 and the broader TA-100 indices ended 0.6% higher at 1,352.96 and 1,220.36 points, respectively, on turnover of NIS 764.6 million.

Bond prices were also substantially higher, with the government’s 10-year shekel bond rising 0.49% to cut the yield to 3.56%. Inflation-indexed bonds for the same period were up 0.42% at close, trimming the yields to 1.42%. “Israeli investors see a lower risk of conflict despite what the politicians have to say. An agreement reduces the odds of a military conflict,” Roni Biron, senior analyst at UBS Israel, told Reuters. “Investors are reading ... that this is a positive agreement. Investors like any agreement that is done in a diplomatic way. They prefer that to a military conflict.”

Before the Iran deal was sealed, the dollar rose and U.S. indices surged to record highs on Friday as lingering worries that the Federal Reserve will soon start to scale back its bond-buying program were quelled by assurances that the Fed’s policy will remain accommodative.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average closed up 0.3% to 16,064.77. The Standard & Poor’s 500 gained 0.5%, to 1,804.76, and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.6% to 3,991.649.

European equity markets were largely steady, with the broad FTSEurofirst 300 index closing 0.1% higher at 1,296.92.

In foreign currency trading on Friday, the dollar lost close 0 0.3% against the shekel to a Bank of Israel rate of NIS 3.5590, while the euro edged 0.07% lower to NIS 4.8029.

Bank shares led the rise on the TASE on Sunday, with the TA-Banking index up 1.5% to 1,320.34. Bank Leumi finished the session 2.2% higher on turnover of NIS 31 million, Mizrahi Tefafot added 1.7%, First International Bank of Israel was up 1.4% and Hapoalim 1.2%. Only Israel Discount Bank, which has been besieged by a labor slowdown that intensified on Sunday, ended lower, shedding 0.8%.

Evogene led TA-100 stocks higher, rising 10.1% by close. The plant genomics company had the good fortune of pricing a $74 million secondary offering of shares in the United States last week, a day before healthcare stocks rallied. Teva Pharmaceuticals also ended on Sunady higher by 1% on the back of the rally.

Other biotech stocks fared less well, with OPKO Healthcare plummeting 7% amid reports that Lakewood Capital was shorting the stock. Trading in OPKO was suspended twice at the opening because the stock’s declines were so steep. Clal Biotechnolog yfell 3.8% and Protlix was off 5.2%.

Download Valley companies also had a bad day. Somoto finished 6% lower after it reported on Sunday that operating profit plunged 67% in the third quarter from the second to just NIS 195,000. Babylon, the online translation company, finished down 7.2%.

Africa Israel, Lev Leviev’s real estate holding company, dropped 7% after bondholders rejected a plan for early redemption of some of its debt, a plan that had been aimed at lowering its financial costs.

Reuters contributed to this report.

A previous round of talks between the six powers and Iran in Geneva. The U.S. promises 'no surprises' as the negotiations develop.Credit: AP

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