Dollar Weakens as Bank of America Sees Stronger Shekel Ahead

Business in Brief: Saidoff seeks to block reform of board nominations at Bezeq ■ Tel Aviv shares extend gains despite a turn higher on Wall Street

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Israeli shekels. (illustrative)
Israeli shekels. (illustrative)Credit: Reuters

Dollar weakens as Bank of America sees stronger shekel ahead

The dollar weakened sharply against the shekel on Monday after a long Purim holiday weekend as Bank of America Merrill Lynch recommended investors buy the Israeli currency in expectations of further gains. The dollar weakened more than 0.8% on Monday to a representative rate of 3.4560 shekels while the euro lost about 0.2% to 4.2509. The report said the shekel would continue to gain on a strong economy, low inflation and natural gas exports. “Academic literature, as well as the Bank of IsraeI’s own past experience, suggests intervention against currency appreciation when macro conditions require monetary tightening tends to be less effective,” BoA said. Yossi Fraiman, CEO of Prico Risk Management, said the shekel’s gain was due to dealers’ using the long holiday, when no representative rate was set, to sell foreign currency. “It appears the Bank of Israel signaled to foreign bankers in meetings that it doesn’t plan to intervene significantly in the forex market,” he said. (Guy Erez)

Saidoff seeks to block reform of board nominations at Bezeq

Naty Saidoff sought to block changes in the way Bezeq nominates board members on Monday, even before he gains control of the telecom giant through a bailout of its parent company, Eurocom Communications. Ahead of a Tuesday board meeting to nominate three new directors, Bezeq’s acting chairman David Granot and the investment house Psagot have been seeking changes to the rules so that minority shareholders could work jointly to nominate directors in opposition to the controlling shareholder’s candidates and undermine his ability to name a chairman. In a letter to Eurocom’s creditor banks, Saidoff said that if the changes went into effect, they would effectively render his future control of Bezeq meaningless and demanded they seek an injunction blocking the changes. Saidoff is expecting to get court approval for his Eurocom offer on March 20. Shares of Bezeq finished 0.15% higher at 5.25 shekels ($1.51). (Michael Rochvarger)

Tel Aviv shares extend gains despite a turn higher on Wall Street

Tel Aviv shares posted their third straight session of declines on Monday, even as Wall Street turned higher. The benchmark TA-35 index finished the day down 0.6% at 1,476.78 points, while the TA-125 lost 0.7% to 1,339.26, as 1.36 billion shekels ($390 million) in shares changed hands. Finance stocks led the day’s losses, with insurers taking an especially big hit: Harel ended down 3.1% at 27.25 shekels, Pheonix lost 2.7% to 20.07 and Migdal 2.1% to 3.70. Banks were also down, with Leumi off 1.8% at 20.66 shekels and First International down 1.3% to 75.30 shekels. Both banks are due to report their fourth-quarter 2017 results on Tuesday. Bank Hapoalim was down 1.6% to 24.09 shekels, but Mizrahi Tefahot bucked the trend with a 1.65% advance to 66.58 shekels. Frutarom fell 2% to 310 shekels in heavy trading. Among gainers, Teva Pharmaceuticals rose 2.1% to close at 67.31 shekels and Delek Automotive advanced 4.9% to 23.49 shekels a day after said it was buying 70% of infrastructure company Veridis. (Guy Erez)