Market Report / Leviathan Lifts Energy Stocks

Stocks inched up in Tel Aviv yesterday after opening the day strongly on news that Australia's Woodside Petroleum was paying $1.5 billion for 30% of the Leviathan offshore natural gas field.

The deal values the field at $5 billion, and Woodside may end up paying another $1 billion to Leviathan's current partners, Ratio Oil Exploration, Delek Drilling, Delek Energy and Avner Oil Exploration. Shares in these companies rose 4.9%, 4.4%, 3.3% and 4.5% respectively. Yitzhak Tshuva's Delek Group gained 0.7%. American firm Noble Energy has also sold part of its rights in Leviathan.

Energy stocks surged early in the day, with Ratio jumping 12% at one point, but these gains moderated as investors locked in profits. Many analysts said the share prices already reflected the value of the Woodside offer.

The blue chip TA-25 index was unchanged for the day at 1,232.34 points. The broader TA-100 index rose 0.1% to end at 1,090.98 points. The TA-Composite index rose just over 0.1%.

Most of the major indexes were in the green, though the TA-Banks index lost 0.1%, as did the Real Estate-15 index. The TA-Communications index dropped 1.4%. On the plus side, the Oil and Gas Exploration index climbed 2.7%. The Biomed index rose 0.8% and the BlueTech-50 index gained 0.7%.

Turnover was average at NIS 1.08 billion. The large-cap corporate bond index shed 0.2%, as did the other TelBond indexes. Government bonds also lost ground. IDB Holding bonds fell by up to 4%; the stock fell 3%.

Israel Discount Bank climbed 2.2% after announcing it may be selling its Discount New York subsidiary. Translation software firm Babylon tumbled 5.6% in the run-up to an expected share issue in January.

Stable shekel

The local forex market was stable yesterday after the weekend. The dollar eased 0.08% against the shekel; the representative rate was set at NIS 3.807. The euro moved slightly in the opposite direction, gaining 0.08%. The representative rate was set at NIS 4.959.

Local forex trading reflected global trends as the euro rose 0.5% to about $1.29. The euro reached its highest level against the dollar in six weeks as concerns abated about debt-burdened Greece and Spain, while Chinese data allayed worries about global economic growth.

The euro gained on hopes of an improvement in the Greek financial crisis. Greece said it would spend 10 billion euros to buy back bonds at a price range that topped market expectations, boosting hopes it could cut its ballooning debt and unlock long-delayed aid.

A successful buyback is central to the efforts of Greece's foreign lenders to put the near-bankrupt country's debt back on a sustainable footing and would clear the way for the funding Athens needs to avoid running out of cash.

Global shares faltered after U.S. manufacturing unexpectedly contracted in November, falling to its lowest level in more than three years. But crude prices rose on signs of revived growth in China, the world's second-biggest oil consumer. European shares trimmed gains on the U.S. manufacturing report. The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares inched up 0.06%. World shares were up 0.1%.


With reporting by Reuters