Market Report / Investors Take Profits for Second Day

Tel Aviv Stock Exchange's benchmark TA-25 index closes 0.2% lower at 1,203.97 points while broader TA-100 index falls 0.15% to 1,071.64.

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The soggy feeling that enveloped Tel Aviv on Tuesday extended to the stock exchange, where declines in Asia and on Wall Street overnight prompted a second day of profit-taking.

The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange's benchmark TA-25 index closed 0.2% lower at 1,203.97 points while the broader TA-100 index fell 0.15% to 1,071.64. Turnover, however, topped NIS 1 billion, with Teva Pharmaceutical Industries heading the most-actives list at nearly NIS 80 million.

European shares edged up yesterday as data signaled the euro zone economy may be stabilizing at a weak level, and the euro held steady while commodity markets were subdued as investors sat on recent gains.

London's FTSE 100 and Paris' CAC-40 both shrugged off their morning weakness by midday. The FTSE 100 was virtually unchanged at 6,063.16 points and the CAC-40 was up 0.1% at 3,708.69. On Wall Street, stocks were little changed at the open as an earnings season expected to show sluggish corporate growth gets under way.

In the local foreign currency market, the dollar's string of gains was broken, with the U.S. currency losing 0.7% to a Bank of Israel rate of NIS 3.7640. The euro edged 0.1% higher to a representative rate of NIS 4.9412.

The biggest declines were in the energy sector, where the oil and gas index fell 1.4% to 1,153.31 on a report - later denied - that the Energy Ministry was considering reducing the export ceiling for natural gas because a spate of dry wells was causing officials to cut their estimates for Israel's total reserves.

Among the day's biggest losers in energy stocks, Avner ended down 3%, Delek Drilling down 2% and Ratio down 3.1%, the latter on turnover of NIS 28 million, making it one of the day's most-actives.

Mellanox continued its descent, dropping 4.9% as NIS 22 million in shares changed hands. It was the third session in four that the semiconductor maker has ended lower, including a whopping 17% drop last week amid a downgrade of its fourth-quarter revenue guidance and other troubles.

Collplant ended 4.9% lower in unusually heavy trading for the stock, NIS 460,000. The company, which develops products for tissue repair, said Edwards Lifesciences was breaking off a collaborative agreement in the cardiovascular arena.

But much of the market ended higher, led by bank shares. The TA-Banking index rose 0.7% to 1,158.78, with Bank Mizrahi-Tefahot climbing 1.8% and Bank Leumi rising 1.3%. Leumi is weighing whether to move its property assets into a real estate investment trust and float the shares. Selling the NIS 1.6 billion in assets would improve its capital-adequacy ratios.

First International Bank of Israel declined 1.6% after it went ex-dividend yesterday.

Nochi Danker's IDB Holding Corporation extended its losses, falling around 2%, while its Series Dalet bonds dropped another 2% to yield 58%. The company's opening offer in talks with bondholders about rescheduling some NIS 1.7 billion in debt was greeted with anger.

Piryon, which develops applications for social networks, jumped 22.7% after it upgraded its forecast for fourth-quarter revenue to $21 million, compared with analysts' estimates of $18.1 million. That will bring revenue for last year to $61 million, a 64% increase on 2011 and higher than analysts had expected.

With reporting by Reuters

A woman walks through rain in Ashdod, Jan. 8, 2013.Credit: Ilan Assayag

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