Market Report / Stocks Amble Up on Thin Trade

Tel Aviv stocks rebounded yesterday after a hard drop on Monday, but on pita-thin total turnover of NIS 1.2 billion. The reasons are legion, from the storm clouds gathering over the eurozone economies to the uncertainty reigning in Washington about the debt ceiling. Good financial statements from Israel's companies can't compete with uncertainties of this magnitude. While there is clearly no great stampede out of the market, points out DBM investments manager Shlomo Meir, people aren't jostling to get in, either.

The benchmark TA-25 index gained 0.7% to close at 1,249 points and the broader TA-100 index gained 0.6% to finish at 1,132 points. While the indexes fluctuated, by and large they stayed above the flatline. The only index to lose ground yesterday was Biomed, which began in the green but reversed at midday to close 0.2% down. Trading within that index was highly selective.

Among the day's losers were Protalix, down 3.5%, Biocell and Glycominds, which each closed with a 3.3% drop, Aposense, which lost 2.8%, and Brainsway, down 1.7%. Prolor Biotech on the other hand gained 4%.

Investors seem to have ample reason for concern. Moody's says Washington's backup plan to raise the U.S. debt ceiling and avoid imminent default could still lead to a downgrade of the country's ratings in the next year or so, Reuters reported yesterday. Why is that? Because the plan doesn't do enough to reduce the towering American deficit. On the bright side, the back-up plan offered by Senator Mitch McConnell, increasingly seen as "Plan A" in Washington, would avoid any immediate downgrade of the coveted U.S. triple-A rating, Moody's analyst Steven Hess told Reuters in an interview. But the outlook? Not terrific.

Like Tel Aviv, world markets were on the rebound yesterday. European stock exchanges were green to a man, with French and German benchmarks gaining 1.2% and share prices in London adding 0.6%. Asian exchanges were mixed with a positive bias. Gold eased back following an 11-day uptrend that lifted its price above $1,600 an ounce.

Back in the Holy Land, ILDC Energy clawed back a wee bit of that 50% it's lost in the space of a month and rebounded 3.4% on turnover of NIS 11 million.

Tao Tsuot commanded attention among those who did play the market yesterday, at least to some degree. Shares of the holding company controlled by Ilan Ben-Dov gained 3.8%, albeit on small turnover of NIS 79,000, and its bonds rebounded strongly, rising by as much as 5.3% (the C2 debenture, on turnover of NIS 1.2 million ).

Koor Industries shares fell 1% after announcing changes to the terms of loans it took from Morgan Stanley and Citigroup to buy stock in Credit Suisse (see Page 8 ).

IBI Investment House published a Buy rating for malls development company Melisron, giving it a 12-month price target of NIS 100. Yesterday Melisron shares gained 2.9% on turnover of NIS 1.4 million, to NIS 77 per share. In other words, IBI envisages a 23% upside to the stock.