The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange's TA-25 got a last-minute shove higher on Wednesday after one big institutional investor flooded the market with buy orders toward the end of the session.
The benchmark index was already on its way to a higher close, trading up about 0.6% most of the day after Wall Street closed overnight at a five-year high and the Israeli public has continued to put new capital into equities. But the last-minute stock shopping spree caused the TA-25 to spike up 1.4% to a close of 1,241.90 points and boosted trading volume for the session to NIS 1.15 billion. The TA-100 index ended up 1.2% to 1,104.53, with the Oil and Gas index jumping 2.2% to 1,133.04 and the TA-Banking index adding 1.8% to finish at 1,206.15.
The S&P 500 index and Dow Jones industrial average hit their highest level in more than five years on Tuesday, but on Wednesday global equity markets faltered as a mixed reading of U.S. housing data took the edge off this year's stock rally. MSCI's all-country world equity index hit a session high of 359.37 before paring gains to trade at 358.21, 0.04% higher on the day.
Wall Street was mostly lower and the FTSEurofirst 300 index index of top European shares was down 0.15% at 1,169.96. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 0.2% at 1,527.69. The S&P 500 has gained more than 7% so far this year, giving some investors pause.
In the currency market, the dollar and the euro weakened sharply against the shekel. The U.S. currency lost 0.54% to a Bank of Israel rate of NIS 3.663 while the euro saw its value decline 0.28% to NIS 4.9007. The dollar's losses renewed speculation about when the central bank might intervene.
On the TASE, Nochi Danker's holding companies rose sharply as he tries to negotiate a debt settlement with bondholders. Although the immediate cause for the jump was not clear, IDB Holding Corporation, which sits at the top of the Dankner group, soared 30.9% Wednesday on turnover of NIS 7.6 million, 12 times it usual level. Discount Investment Corporation, another of his holding companies, jumped 6.3% on turnover of NIS 29 million, nearly eight times its daily average.
Another company wrestling with its bondholders, Motti Zisser's Elbit Imaging, also rose sharply Wednesday, adding 4.2% to its closing price and Again, it is not clear who sees the value in Elbit Imaging shares since the settlement would dilute existing shareholders by more than 80%.
Among companies reporting fourth-quarter 2012 earnings Wednesday, apparel maker Delta Galil rose 3.9% after it said earnings jumped 66% from a year ago to $13.8 million thanks to the acquisition of a German company last July. Operating profit, however, grew faster by 73% to $19.78 million.
Shares of Nova Measuring Instruments rebounded from early declines to end up 2.1%. The company reported overnight that profit fell by two thirds in the fourth quarter from a year ago to $1 million and said the outlook for first-quarter 2012 is strong.
"We ended the year with a significant improvement in our backlog, providing strong momentum as we enter 2013," CEO Gabi Seligsohn said. Super-Sol, Israel's largest supermarket chain, ended virtually unchanged even though it reported a sharp drop in quarterly net profit. Net fell to NIS 56 million from NIS 108 million a year earlier when its bottom benefited from a rise in the value of its real estate for investment of NIS 35 million.
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