Market Report / Stocks Mixed on Heavy Volume

In Israel, the leading indexes were mixed with a positive bias, no more, on heavy total turnover of NIS 2.1 billion.

Never disrespect the power of the bond market. Stocks surged ahead in many parts of the world as the most immediate concerns about the state of Portugal eased, thanks to a healthy bond auction.

In Israel (and in Tokyo, too ), the leading indexes were mixed with a positive bias, no more, on heavy total turnover of NIS 2.1 billion. But in the United States, two stocks rose for every loser on Wall Street on hopes that euro-zone finance ministers would beef up the European Union's rescue fund, and after Portugal - whose cost of debt had been rising fast - sold $1.62 billion amid strong demand.

"The auction shows a stabilization in the European situation, and that removes an item from our wall of worry," Jason Pride, director of investment strategy at Glenmede Investment and Wealth Management in Philadelphia, told Reuters.

Over in Europe, share prices jumped to a 28-month high yesterday on the relief that Portugal's debt had sold briskly. The FTSEurofirst 300 of top European shares finished 1.5% higher. Even though Spain's debt situation isn't considered safe as casas. Spanish stocks led the rally - with the country's benchmark index IBEX leaping 5.4%, spurred north by bank shares, which gained between 5% to 10% yesterday.

Over in Asia, Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei index closed flat, backing away from an eight-month high hit early as traders locked in profits. To be sure, the profit is there: Since November the Nikkei has added 15%.

Lively day for Israel Chemicals

Back in Israel, share prices were mixed with a decidedly positive bias - all the indexes were in the green, if barely so. The intraday chart of the TA-25 index shows that trading had been choppy, but that prices stayed in positive territory throughout yesterday's session.

The liveliest share on the floor was Israel Chemicals, which clawed up from a morning dip in the red, spent the session swinging around the flatline and finished 0.3% higher, on turnover of NIS 200 million. Second on the liveliest list was Ratio Oil Exploration, which gained 1.6% on turnover of NIS 138 million.

Shares of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries lost 1.2% yesterday. The company has informed investors of its plan to retire $813 million worth of debentures coming due in 2026: It will repay the lot on February 1.

Shari Arison's company Shikun & Binui (formerly known as Housing & Construction ) lost 0.5%, even though it reported winning a tender, as part of a consortium with G4S Israel, to build a police training academy in Beit Shemesh for NIS 1.5 billion. The job should last three years, S&B reported, and the contract includes operating the place for 22 years in exchange for annual payments from the state.

Premium, the oil exploration company owned by Yuli Ofer, gained 9.5% yesterday after reporting that it will be exercising its option to buy rights in the Sara and Myra deep-sea prospects for NIS 10 million.


With reporting by Vadim Sviderski and Reuters.