Business in Brief / Shares of Leviathan Partners Reel as Jordan Turns to Gaza for Gas

Dollar moves higher after holiday break; Elbit wins third big contract in two weeks; TASE stocks lower.

File photo: Drilling platform at the Leviathan natural gas field.
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Shares of Leviathan partners reel as Jordan turns to Gaza for gas

The shares of the Leviathan natural gas field partner sank Monday on reports that Jordan was not only suspending talks to buy its gas but is turning to Gaza to source its energy instead. Bloomberg News cited Mohammad Hamed, Jordan’s minister of energy and mineral resources, as saying his country would sign an agreement with BG Group in the first quarter, with delivery to start at the end of 2017. The Jordanian government’s National Electric Power Company will import 150 million cubic feet to 180 million cubic feet a day, he said. Jordan’s move comes two weeks after Israeli Antitrust Commissioner David Gilo threw open the issue of who will control Leviathan after he voided an agreement that has allowed a natural gas cartel to operate in Israel. Shares of Delek Drilling closed down 4.1% to 13.53 shekels ($3.42), Avner by 4% to 2.58 shekels and Ratio by 3.2% to 31 agorot. In New York, Noble shares were down 7.7% at $43.28 late morning local time. (TheMarker)

Dollar moves higher after holiday break

The dollar took a sharp turn higher Monday as the forex market came back to life following the New Year's break. The greenback appreciated 1.15% against the shekel, bringing its gains over the past two trading days to close to 2% and leaving the Bank of Israel rate at 3.963 shekels. The euro weakened 0.1% to 4.7137 as the European currency hit a nine-year low against the dollar. “After two weeks on directionless trading because of the Christmas-New Year holiday, trading levels are expected to resume to normal levels in the next few days, “ said currency trader FXCM. “Expectations are for further rises in the dollar-shekel rate, with the dollar likely to reach as high as 4.36 shekels in the coming year.” FXCM cited expectations of rising U.S. interest rates over the course of 2015 while the Bank of Israel is likely to keep its base rate unchanged, perhaps into 2016. (Omri Zerachovitz)

Elbit wins third big contract in two weeks

Shares of Elbit Systems jumped Monday after the defense systems maker reported its third big contract in two weeks. The company said Monday it had won an eight-year, $100 million contract from Israel’s Defense Ministry to buy six firefighting planes and operate the squadron, including employing pilots. The squadron, named Elad, was formed four years ago, after the disastrous Mount Carmel forest fire. The firefighting contract comes just a day after Elbit was awarded a $90 million contract from the Defense Ministry to maintain the Israel Air Force avionics systems. Ten days before that, Elbit was named a subcontractor for a five-year, $106 million project to upgrade four Grumman C-1A aircraft for the Brazilian Navy. Elbit shares closed up 3.5% at 248.50 shekels ($62.74). (TheMarker Staff)

TASE stocks lower for seventh session of eight

The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange’s TA-25 index fell for the seventh of its last eight sessions Monday as energy and telecom shares continued to weigh on the market (see stories on this page). The benchmark index lost close to 0.2% to end at 1,457.47 points, while the TA-100 fell 0.4% to 1,279.77, on turnover of 1.55 billion shekels ($390 million). IDB Development Corporation extended its losses, tumbling 5.7% to end at 1.70 shekels following a 9.3% fall the day before. Tech and biomed shares were mostly up, but Mazor Robotics edged down 0.3% to 23.75. The company reported six new orders for its robotic surgical system but said it failed to close orders from several U.S. hospitals before the end of 2014. After briefly rallying at the end of last week, the Jerusalem Economy real estate company fell sharply again Monday, ending down 4.8% at 11.79 shekels on concerns over its Russia exposure. In the fixed-income market, the government’s 10-year Shahar bond climbed 0.46% while the inflation-linked Galil, due in 2023, rose 0.43%. (Omri Zerachovitz)