Business in Brief: Bank of Israel Intervenes to Prop Up Sagging Euro

Three companies win multimillion-dollar orders; Pluristem shares rally ahead of U.S. vote; Bonus Biogroup reports successful clinical trial; Tel Aviv shares ignore Italian referendum and rally.

The Bank of Israel headquarters in Jerusalem.

Bank of Israel intervenes to prop up sagging euro

The Bank of Israel intervened in the foreign currency market on Monday for the first time in several months amid concerns that the weak euro would be further undermined by the referendum vote in Italy over the weekend. Sources said the bank bought around $200 million in foreign currency and the euro strengthened some 0.27% against the shekel to a Bank of Israel rate of 4.093 and was trading at 4.0944 late in the day. In addition, the euro strengthened globally as investors bet that Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s resignation after voters rejected his constitutional reforms would not trigger a snap election in Italy. The euro hit a 20-month low of $1.0508 but roared back two full cents to above $1.07 for the first time in more than two weeks. Against the shekel, the euro lost about 6% of its value since the start of October and last week touched a 14-year low. The dollar, meanwhile, lost 0.26% to a Bank of Israel rate of 3.817 on Monday. (Shelly Appelberg and Reuters)

Three companies win multimillion-dollar orders

Three Israeli companies announced major contract wins on Monday. Orbotech said it won a $61 million order from BOE Technology Group, a Chinese maker of flat panel displays, for its inspection and testing equipment, with deliveries scheduled to begin in the second half of 2017. Orbotech shares on Nasdaq were trading up 2.6% at $31.30 late morning New York time. Meanwhile, Raval ICS, a maker of fuel-venting systems for vehicles, said it had amassed 88.6 million euros ($95 million) in orders so far in the fourth quarter, adding to an orders backlog that stood at 1.27 billion euros September 30. Raval said it was getting more contracts amid tougher environmental rules in China and other countries. Raval shares closed up 3.5% at 8.63 shekels ($2.26). Nova said it had received orders totaling more than $20 million from unnamed companies in the semiconductor industry for its measuring technology. Nova shares ended up 4.1% at 52.10 shekels. (Omri Zerachovitz)

Pluristem shares rally ahead of U.S. vote

Shares of Pluristem, which is developing cellular-based treatments for conditions such as inflammation or exposure to radiation, rose Monday in anticipation of new U.S. legislation that could aid it. The 21st Century Cures Act, which is expected to come to a House vote on Wednesday, aims to speed up the approval of new medicines and medical devices. It earmarks $6.3 billion for biomedical research and contains provisions to ease the requirements for drug makers seeking approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Yaron Ramati, who is in charge of regulatory affairs at Pluristem, said the law would for the first time distinguish between ordinary and regenerative medicine. The latter, which his company deals in, seeks to regenerate human cells, tissues or organs and under the legislation would be subject to less stringent clinical trials. Shares of Pluristem ended 5.2% higher at 5.91 shekels ($1.55). (Yoram Gabison)

Bonus Biogroup reports successful clinical trial

Bonus Biogroup’s lab-grown, semi-liquid bone graft was successfully injected into the jaws of 11 people to repair bone loss in an early-stage clinical trial, the company said on Monday. The material, grown in a lab from each patient’s own fat cells, was injected into and filled the voids of the problematic bones. Over a few months it hardened and merged with the existing bone to complete the jaw, Bonus said. “For the first time worldwide, reconstruction of deficient or damaged bone tissue is achievable by growing viable human bone graft in a laboratory, and transplanting it back to the patient in a minimally invasive surgery via injection,” said CEO Shai Meretzki. The company said it plans to dual list on Nasdaq in the coming months. “Now we are going to conduct a clinical study in the extremities, long bones,” Ora Burger, vice president of regulatory affairs, told Reuters. Bonus shares ended up 2.2% at 70 agorot (18 cents). (Reuters)

Tel Aviv shares ignore Italian referendum and rally

Just like the rest of the world, the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange shrugged off Italy’s referendum vote on constitutional reform over the weekend and posted sharp gains. The TA-25 and TA-100 indices both finished the day up close to 1.2% each at 1,4449.77 and 1,268.27 points, respectively, on turnover of 1.22 billion shekels ($320 million). Bank shares paced gains, with Bank Hapolaim up 2.5% at the end of the day to 23.16 shekels and Bank Leumi ahead 1.35% to 15.71. Tiny Union Bank jumped 6% to 16.26 amid reports that Shlomo Eliahu was in talks to sell control. The shares have climbed 12% since the start of the month. Biomed shares were also higher, paced by a 5.6% gain for Mannkind to 2.13 and a 3.6% advance for Opko Health to 41.14. El Al Airlines led TA-100 losers, dropping 2.6% to 3.02 for its third daily decline in the last four sessions. (Shelly Appelberg)