Market Report / Allot Lifts TASE, Protalix Sinks on Downgrade

In Europe, news of Spain's descent into recession in the first quarter stung.

Tel Aviv stocks finished a turbulent day of thin trading a shade higher: European investors weren't about to provide a boost given the bad news in Spain, so the likes of Allot Communications had to supply the upside. Allot gained nearly 8% after an upbeat financial statement for the first quarter of 2012.

In Europe, news of Spain's descent into recession in the first quarter stung. But it could be surmised that the news didn't totally knock investors off their feet: Madrid's benchmark index, the MGI, lost 1.9%.

French shares retreated 1.6%, but otherwise the reaction in Europe was muted, and a handful of exchanges, including London's, finished well into the green.

Also in world markets, gold staged a pullback snapping a five-day winning streak as better-than-expected U.S. manufacturing data further diminished chances of additional U.S. monetary easing and the precious metal>s investment appeal.

In Israel, the benchmark TA-25 index gained 0.2% to 1,166 points and the broader TA-100 index rose 0.1% to 1,067 points.

The Biomed index lost 1.5%, dragged down by Protalix Biotherapeutics, which suffered a rating downgrade and fell 6% on huge turnover (for it ) of NIS 29 million. Total turnover was a pitiful half billion shekels.

The talk of the floor was indeed Protalix, which was downgraded by U.S. brokerage Auriga. Investors were betting that the company won't get the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval it needs; the decision on that hadn't arrived by the Israeli closing.

Share movements tend to be exacerbated by thin trading turnovers; such was the case yesterday. Among the TA-25 index of the exchange's 25 weightiest companies, the picture was mixed with no extremes. The biggest gainers were Nice Systems and the HOT cable TV company; both rose 2.3%. Maybe investors liked the news that State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss thought HOT and its rival, the Yes satellite television company, were underregulated. (With reporting by Reuters)