Market Report / Israel Corp. Slides 4% on Massive Stock Distribution Through Morgan Stanley

Tel Aviv stocks lost ground yesterday on average turnover, keeping with the general trend on world markets. There were some exceptions, such as Iceland, but most markets retreated or at best, gave a mixed performance. Gold lost about a percent to $1,391, weakening after a 3-day upward streak, and the dollar gained ground against the euro. But analysts maintain the yellow metal retains its luster, as underlying demand for the metal as a risk haven prevented a larger correction, analysts.

European shares were mixed but, by and large, retreated, snapping a day's-long upturn, after Moody's warned that Spain faced a possible debt downgrade from its present rating of Aa1. Still, the Madrid general index lost no more than 1.5%. More tellingly, prices of Spanish government bonds wilted, sending yields rising high.

European bank shares in particular took a beating in Europe, with Barclays, for example, losing 3%. London's benchmark FTSE index and Frankfurt's DAX ended just a hair under the flatline.

One of the few winners in Europe yesterday was the Helsinki All Share Index, which gained 0.4%.

Over in Asia, almost all leading indexes were in the red: the Nikkei held its own, but Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell almost 2% and Chinese indexes fell by 0.5%-1.6%.

Back in the Holy Land, the benchmark TA-25 index lost 0.5%, dropping to 1,297 points and the broader TA-100 index fell the same to 1,198 points. Bank shares lost only 0.3%. Total turnover was average levels at NIS 1.8 billion.

Onto the stocks: Shares of Elbit Systems gained 0.8% after the defense systems maker announced that its subsidiary, Elbit Systems of America, is acquiring the Texas-based avionics company M7 Aerospace for $85 million.

The day before it joins the TA-100 index, Property & Building held an auction of bonds for institutional investors. It wanted to raise NIS 300 million and saw demand mount to a billion shekels. P&B, which belongs to the IDB group, gained 0.2% but parent IDB Holding fell 2.2%.

Shares of Israel Corporation fell 3.8% on huge turnover of NIS 143 million because of a transient overhang: Morgan Stanley distributed 1.2% of the company's stock on Tuesday night for about $100 million, to institutional investors.

The "tsuris" at Hatehof sent its stock plunging 9.3% yesterday as the company pursues a rescue plan from the Origo fund and others. The deal under discussion would bring the company an NIS 25 million injection. Hatehof, among other products, makes the fire trucks that Israel sorely needs.

Ashtrom Properties fell 3.3% after rising 6% the day before as it joins the Tel-Div 20 index, which includes the 20 biggest companies by market cap that distribute dividends.

The liveliest share on the floor yesterday was Israel Chemicals, which fell 0.4%on turnover of NIS 145 million. The stock spent the entire day, other than a flash in early afternoon, under water.