Market Report / Barak Who? TASE Ends Flat

The morning may have begun with Sturm und Drang in the political arena as Ehud Barak left the Labor Party, immediately after which three senior ministers quit, but Israeli investors reacted to the ruckus with magnificent equanimity. In short, the indexes went nowhere special, ending mixed with a slightly negative bias on thin turnover of NIS 1.5 billion.

Elsewhere in the world the euro faded against most major currencies as hopes for an immediate increase in the euro zone's bailout fund faded, and on sour expectations that the European Central Bank wouldn't be raising interest rates after all. Oil retreated as the dollar gained ground. European shares were mixed with a negative bias. The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index closed 0.1% higher, but across the continent, benchmark indexes closed in the red from London to Paris to Madrid. Germany was alone with its close slightly above water.

Judging by stock futures, U.S. investors were sobered by the news that Apple CEO Steve Jobs is taking leave again for health reasons. The U.S. markets were closed yesterday for Martin Luther King Day.

Here in Tel Aviv, the benchmark TA-25 index spent the whole day in the red and finished 0.3% lower. The broader TA-100 index also weakened by 0.3%. Bank and real estate indexes both lost 0.8%. Ratio Oil Exploration was the liveliest stock on the floor again, closing 2.4% lower on turnover of NIS 85 million.

Shares of Makhteshim-Agan Industries lost 0.2% on turnover of NIS 21 million and its parent company Koor Industries gained 0.8% on turnover of NIS 3.7 million, despite the report of a class-action motion against Koor over the terms of selling the controlling interest in Makhteshim-Agan to ChemChina. For more on that story, see Page 8.

Procognia shares shot up 34% on reports of takeover negotiations: see Page 8.

Financial Levers shares retreated by 5.7%, widening their loss over a week to 28%.

Amalia Holdings stock lost 6% after announcing merger talks with a vehicle engaging in oil exploration belonging to Jacky Ben-Zaken and Avraham Nanikashvili.

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries shares lost 0.8% on turnover of NIS 48 million. After the close, the world learned that the drug company laid off 200 people from a California plant making injectables.

With reporting by Reuters and Eran Azran.