Business in Brief: Dollar at Year’s Highest Versus the Shekel

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Israeli shekels. (illustrative)Credit: Reuters

Dollar at year’s highest versus the shekel

The dollar was fixed at its highest rate against the shekel in over a year Thursday, as tensions with Iran and rising using U.S. government bond yields strengthened the greenback worldwide. The dollar gained 0.6% on the shekel to a representative rate of 6.632 shekels. Prof. Leo Lederman, chief economist at Bank Hapoalim, noted that the shekel’s weakness comes after a long stretch when its movements against the dollar were detached from global trends. While the dollar held steady against most major currencies during the first quarter, it weakened to as low as 3.52 shekels. “The strong correlation between the shekel-dollar exchange rate and the dollar’s situation in the world has resumed,” Lederman told TheMarker. “The exchange rate now first and foremost depends on how the dollar behaves worldwide and that, it appears, will depend in the near term on geopolitical developments, mainly between the United States and Iran.” (Eran Azran)

TowerJazz unveils chip with market of $9.4b

TowerJazz, the Israeli maker of integrated circuits on order for other companies, said Thursday it had developed a low-voltage chip that could make it the industry leader in a market worth over $9 billion. The new semiconductor, which features an advanced power-management platform, is being made in the company’s Uozu facility in Japan. Mass production is expected to begin before the end of the year. TowerJazz said the platform provides “significant material competitive advantages” for power-management chips used in such applications as DC-DC converters, LED drivers, motor drivers, battery management and analog and digital controllers. “We are experiencing very high interest from early adopter customers,” said Shimon Greenberg, a TowerJazz vice president. He cited IHS Markit Power IC Analyst Kevin Anderson’s forecast of a $9.4 billion available market for the technology in 2018. TowerJazz shares ended down 0.9% at 95.70 shekels ($26.40). (Yoram Gabison) 

Ben-Moshe edges closer to control of Gindi  

Moti Ben-Moshe appeared to be moving closer to securing control of Gindi Investments after the troubled property developer said Thursday it would redeem its publicly traded bonds early, ending its status as a publicly traded company, Gindo said it would redeem the 62 million shekels ($17 million) in bonds May 22, topping off a 45 million shekel early redemption it completed in February. Ben-Moshe has been in talks about buying Gindi through his Blue Square Investments, and delisting from the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange will reportedly make reaching a deal easier. The company has been in trouble since it was unable to repay 110 million in debt to holders of its Series Dalet bonds because its cash flow problems prevented from recycling the debt. In recent months the Gindi family has been forced to pump tens of millions of shekels into the company to cover its obligations. (Eran Azran)

Tel Aviv shares slip into minus in final stretch

Tel Aviv shares slipped into the red in the final half hour Thursday as Wall Street opened lower. The benchmark TA-35 index lost 0.5% to end at 1,468.91 points, while the TA-125 fell more than 0.4% to 1,328.09, on turnover of 1.7 billion shekels ($470 million). Among the biggest losers, Perrigo ended down 3.9% at 271.20 shekels, El Al Airlines 3.5% to 1.02 and Frutarom 2.6% to 336, capping a 9.2% drop since April 22.  SodaStream dropped sharply for a second day, skidding 3% to 316.50 after a 3.9% drop Wednesday, despite a strong first-quarter earnings report. Among gainers, Bank Leumi advanced 1.1% to 21.71 shekels and Bank Hapoalim 1% to 25.35. Elovitch group companies rallied a day after creditors opted to sell off the companies piecemeal. Enlight Energy rose 4.8^% to 1.75, B Communications by 3.2% to 44.70 and Internet Gold by 3.1% to 14.95. (Jasmin Gueta)