Market Report / Eran Azran

Babylon Loses 4% More on Slow Tel Aviv Session

Dollar wilts yet more against shekel, euro doesn't budge.

The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange got off to a quiet start this week, with the main indices gaining 0.5% in directionless trading, with a mere NIS 656 million in shares changing hands — a low figure even for a Sunday.

The benchmark TA-25 index of blue chip stocks ended at 1,293.32 points and the broader TA-100 at 1,171.12.

Technology shares were mostly lower, with Babylon losing 4% more in heavy trading of NIS 33.4 million as it continues to reel from accusations by one of its biggest customers, the Yahoo web portal, of contract violations.

Other tech stocks to sink included Ceragon, which lost 3.1%, and Allot Communications, which slid 2.6%.

Teva Pharmaceuticals, however, received some rare good new when Citibank initiated coverage of the with a Buy and $47 price target for its New York Stock Exchange-traded shares. They rose 3.4% to $41.70 on Friday and gained 3.1% on the TASE Sunday, boosted by the arbitrage gap.

The TASE got a lift from world equity indices, which closed near 5-year highs on Friday as major U.S. technology companies propelled Wall Street to another day of gains and sent the S&P 500 index to close at a record. The three main indices all rose about 0.4%, with the Dow Jones industrial average ending at 15,570.28, the S&P 500 at 1,759.78 and the Nasdaq Composite at 3,943.361. For the week, the Dow rose 1.1%, the S&P 500 was up 0.9% and the Nasdaq added 0.7%.

European equities ended slightly lower on Friday, with Telecom Italia leading the telecoms sector down on concerns of a capital hike by the Italian company and Volvo hurting industrials after reporting a sharp drop in profits. The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index closed 0.1% lower at 1,284.76, but for the week was up 0.6% for a third straight week of gains after hitting a five-year high on Tuesday.

The euro slightly rose against the dollar, hovering close to a two-year high, as souring German business morale did little to dent bullish sentiment toward the euro zone common currency. Against the shekel, the U.S. currency lost 0.18% to a Bank of Israel rate of NIS 3.5260. The euro was virtually unchanged at NIS 4.8709.

In the TASE bond market, the Tel-Bond 20, 40 and 60 indices advanced as much as 0.3%.The government's 10-year shekel bond edged up 0.08%, trimming its yield to 3.55%. Its index-linked bond for the same term rose a stronger 0.26%, cutting the yield to 1.48%.

Africa Israel Real Estate, whose parent company is struggling to reach a new debt accord with creditors, raised NIS 152 million in the institutional tranche of a follow-on sale of its Series Bet bonds. The issue was oversubscribed by a factor of five and the yield was set at 2.15%.

Electra Real Estate rose 2.3% after it said Sunday that it a group of subsidiaries was selling a portfolio of Canadian real estate assets for the equivalent of NIS 388 million, a deal that will net the company NIS 103 million. Electra's Series Dalet bonds rose 1% in heavy trading.

Other property developers to end higher included Al Rov Israel (3.1%) and Al-Rov Real Estate (3.9%), the latter the biggest gainer on the TA-100 Sunday. Azorim jumped 4.9% after it said last week it was considering buying control of Kardan Real Estate, which has property assets in Israel and the Netherlands.

In biotech, Itamar Medical rose 4.8% Sunday. Over the weekend, the maker of diagnostic devices said North Shore Long Island Jewish Health Systems agreed to undertake an evaluation of its  EndoPAT2000 device. Clal Biotechnology added 3.3%, but Compugen ended 2.8% lower.

Ellomay Capital, an alternative-energy company listed on the NYSE, ended its first day of trading as a dual-listed TASE stock with a gain of 6.3%.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Ariel Schalit