Foreign Currency Trading in Israel Jumped in 2014 by 45%

Business in Brief: Mivtach Shamir expects a 700 million shekel gain from the sale of its Tnuva stake.

Reuters

Foreign currency trading in Israel jumped in 2014 by 45% to an average of $6.4b per day

Trading in Israel’s foreign currency market jumped 45% to an average of $6.4 billion daily in 2014, boosted by a sharp rise in swap transactions by Israeli participants, the Bank of Israel said on Thursday. Foreign investors accounted for 31% of the daily volume, down from 40% in 2013 when overall daily volume fell 16%. Foreigners accounted for 63% of daily trade in 2010 but their participation has steadily fallen since then due to increased regulation on foreign investors. The central bank noted that swap transactions surged 87% to an average monthly level of $79 billion in 2014. The Bank of Israel itself bought $7 billion in spot and forward transactions, $3.5 billion on which were part of a program intended to offset the effects of natural gas production in the exchange rate. During the year, the dollar strengthened 12% against the shekel, with most of the appreciation since August. (Reuters)

Mivtach Shamir expects a 700 million shekel gain from the sale of its Tnuva stake

Mivtach Shamir said it expects to post a pre-tax gain of 700 million shekels ($176 million) from selling its 20.7% stake in the food maker Tnuva to China’s Bright Food. Mivtach Shamir disclosed the estimate after Bright Food reached an agreement with Apax Partners, which is selling its much bigger stake in Tnuva, extending the deadline for completing the deal another three months to March 24 and possibly as late as April 2. The Chinese company, which pay a 23.9-million-euro fine for the latest delay, needs the time to get approvals from Beijing and arrange financing to buy 76.7% of Tnuva in a deal that values the company at 8.6 billion shekels. Shares of Mivtach Shamir, a holding company that bought Tnuva with Apax in 2008, when the company was valued at 989 billion shekels, closed up 6.5% at 94.93 shekels. (Yoram Gabison)

Protalix shares soar on promising clinical trial results on drug to treat Fabry disease

Shares of Protalix BioTherapeutics soared on Thursday after the company reported positive results for its PRX-102 for the treatment of Fabry disease. A phase I/II clinical trial for PRX-102 demonstrated meaningful clinical benefits — reduced pain and a reduction in renal peritubular capillary Gb3 of 82.2% for men and 65.4% for women. “Given that the efficacy results are for the lowest dose cohort and were achieved after only six months, we believe PRX-102 has the potential to be a significantly improved product compared to the enzyme replacement therapies currently available to the Fabry patient community,” CEO Moshe Manor said in a statement. A rare genetic disorder, Fabry disease causes suffered immense pain in the extremities and gastrointestinal tract as well as kidney complications. Shares of Protalix closed up 9.5% in Tel Aviv at 8.98 shekels ($2.26). (Yoram Gabison)

Tel Aviv shares end higher for fourth day, inspired by trading on foreign stock exchanges

The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange ended higher for a fourth straight session on Thursday, boosted by higher global bourses. The benchmark TA-25 index ended 0.5% higher at 1,469.58 points while the TA-100 index added 0.75% to 1,290.60 points. Turnover was 1.4 billion shekels ($350 million). Biomed stocks led the way higher, with Teva Pharmaceuticals advancing 2.6% for a 229.90-shekel close in heavy trading. Other gainers were Jerusalem Economy, which jumped 7.5% to 12.12 shekels, and Rami Levy, up 6.5% to 160.50. Telecommunications shares, hit by rising concerns about a price war breaking out, were the only segment to end lower: Partner Communications dropped 2.6% to 16 shekels and Bezeq declined 1.4% to 6.76 shekels. In foreign currency trading, the dollar continued to strengthen on the shekel, appreciating 0.35% to a Bank of Israel rate of 3.9740 shekels. The euro also gained, 0.2% to 4.6759 shekels. (Omri Zerachovitz)