Tel Aviv shares ended lower for a second day on Thursday, as Israel Chemicals took the place of Bezeq to lead the market lower in very heavy trading. The dollar bucked its global weakness to post a gain on the shekel.
The benchmark TA-25 index finished the session 0.2% lower at 1,286.36 points as turnover, lifted by the export of the October Maof contract, reached NIS 2.16 billion. The Maof was fixed at 1,293.23. The broader TA-100 index moved 0.1% higher to 1,165.10.
For the week, the TA-25 ended 0.8% down, cutting its year-to-date return to 8.5%. The TA-100 was off 0.6% for the week but up 11.1% for the year. The week's top performing index again was the TA-Biomed, which added 5.5% to bring its 2013 advance so far to 33%. The TA-Oil and Gas index added 3.2% for the week, bringing its gain for the year to 11%.
ICL dropped 4.5% on turnover of NIS 148 million after Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan yesterday reported a sharp drop in third-quarter earnings and cut its full-year outlook more than Wall Street expected, to a range of $2.00 to $2.20 a share, signaling bad news ahead for ICL profits. ICL's parent company, the Israel Corporation, fell 3.4% by closing.
Last summer's breakup of rival Belarusian Potash Company has roiled the market, leaving North America's Canpotex Limited, owned by Potash Corp, Mosaic Company and Agrium Incorporated, as the last potash trading partnership with such global clout.
Global equity markets edged higher yesterday, boosted by signs of growth in China's manufacturing sector, while rising expectations that the Federal Reserve will keep its stimulus efforts in place for months kept U.S. Treasuries yields near three-month lows.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.6% at 15,500.83 late morning New York time. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 0.3% at 1,751.21 and the Nasdaq Composite Index ahead 0.5% at 3,927.44.
European shares recovered their poise, climbing back toward five-year highs thanks to strong corporate results and the encouraging manufacturing data from top metals consumer China. The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index was up 0.4% at 1,284.89, recovering from the previous session's fall and climbing back toward Tuesday's five-year highs of 1,291.93.
Low Treasury yields kept the dollar pressured while helping the euro. The euro was up 0.3 percent at $1.3816, having earlier hit $1.3824, its strongest level since November 2011. Against the shekel, however, the dollar strengthened 0.3% to a Bank of Israel rate of NIS 3.5320. The euro gained even more, adding 0.7%, to NIS 4.8741.
In the fixed-income market, the Tel-Bond 20, 40 and 60 indices rose as much as 0.5%.
Yossi Fraiman, CEO of Prico Risk Management & Investments, said the dollar would probably keep to a range of NIS 3.5 to NIS 3.55. "We believe that the Bank of Israel will back the dollar if it approaches NIS 3.5 and, against that, Israeli exporters will start converting forex at about NIS 3.55, which creates an upside for any short-term shekel depreciation," he said.
Bezeq was the most active stock of the day in TASE equities trading, with some NIS 20.7.2 million shares changing. But after a sharp drop on Wednesday in response to Citibank's downgrading its rating, Bezeq steadied with a loss of only 0.8 for the day.
Space Communications extended its losses over news that engine troubles on its Amos 5 satellite will shorten its working life, with the share dropping another 4.5%. Spacecom's Series 12 bonds, however, rebounded after a 6% drop this week to rise 1.6% yesterday. Clal Biotechnology also extended its losses for a third day, shedding another 4.4%.
Silicom, a maker of networking and data infrastructure technology, rose 6% after it reported a 55% jump in non-GAAP net income to a record $4.2 million, or 58 cents a diluted share for the third quarter. Babylon, the online translation company whose share plummeted Wednesday on concerns of its contractual relationship with Yahoo, fell another 1.9%
Reuters contributed to this report.