Market Report / Israeli Stocks Pass Over Strong Global Rally, End Session Mixed

Tel Aviv stocks ended the truncated Passover trading session slightly higher on matza-thin turnover, ignoring the impetus of a strong rally in world markets.

The benchmark TA-25 index gained 0.3% to close at 1,339 points and the broader TA-100 index added 0.4% to close at 1,211 points. Real estate shares climbed 1.3%.

Global stocks strongly rebounded yesterday from the S&P bombshell Monday, when the debt-rating agency warned that the United States could face a downgrade from its perfect AAA rating in two years if its leaders don't mend their quarrelsome ways and knuckle down to solve America's financial problems.

Frankfurt's DAX led the rebound with a 3% gain, but Paris' CAC wasn't far behind, rising 2.5%. London's benchmark FTSE index gained 2.3%. Asian stock markets were not quite as extreme but did not disappoint: South Korea's KOSPI gained 2.2% and Japan's Nikkei advanced 1.8%. Chinese share prices were relatively weaker, with a 0.3% gain.

Back in Tel Aviv, Moody's may have downgraded the banks, but this didn't move investors much. Hapoalim rose 0.8%, Leumi inched down 0.1% and Mizrahi-Tefahot lost 1.3%.

Discount Investment, an IDB group company, gained 0.4% after announcing that it's buying NIS 106 million worth of Maariv's debt at a 60% discount.

ICL climbed 3.8% on heavy turnover of just over NIS 100 million. IBI analyst Guil Bashan said North American chemical company Canpotex is raising the price of potash, a key product for the Israeli company as well, to $510 per ton. The price applies to Brazil and Asia.

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries was the liveliest stock on the floor yesterday, falling by a steep 1.9%. First Global (UK) downgraded the Israeli generic drugs company to Market Perform, from Outperform, following the company>s admission that its oral medication for multiple sclerosis, laquinimod, had fallen short of expectations in clinical trials.