Market Report / TA-25 Drops as Dollar Hits NIS 4

Trading came against the backdrop of the continued rise of the U.S. dollar against the shekel.

Trading on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange closed lower on Wednesday following declines on Asian markets and ignoring gains on Wall Street Tuesday.

Trading came against the backdrop of the continued rise of the U.S. dollar against the shekel, with the greenback surpassing the NIS 4 rate for the first time since 2009 on Wednesday morning. The representative rate of the dollar was set at NIS 4.008.

The benchmark Tel Aviv-25 Index and the broader TA-100 both closed about 0.2% lower yesterday. The TA-25 wrapped up trading at 1,057.42 and the TA-100 at 967.10.

The Banks-5 Index declined by 0.9%, which followed a drop of 1% Tuesday. The Real Estate-15 declined by 0.4%, while the long slide of the Technology Index continued, with a drop of 1.7% Wednesdsay. Volume remained light at NIS 738 million.

Among the standouts in stock trading were Mellanox Technologies, which dropped 4% in advance of its earnings report, Teva, which gained 1.9%, and Bank Leumi, which slumped by 1%.

Oil and gas sector shares bucked the general trend on Wednesday and rose sharply. Shares in Modiin Energy and Israel Land Development Co. Energy, which own stakes in the Mira and Sara offshore exploration sites, jumped 7.6% and 4% respectively, in turn boosting the Tel Aviv Oil and Gas Index by 2.1%.

In the Mira natural gas exploration zone, efforts are currently under way to drill to a new target level in the hopes of finding commercial quantities of oil or gas. Results of the effort are expected to be released in the coming weeks.

Also in the energy sector, shares in Gulliver Energy shot up by 10.3% on Wednesday following the news that Los Angeles-based businessman Younes Nazarian would be investing an additional sum of about NIS 2.6 million in the company in a private placement, boosting his stake in Gulliver to about 10%. With the latest infusion, the firm has raised close to NIS 9 million recently.

Trading in government bonds Wednesday was mixed but more up than down. Ten-year shekel bonds retreated from a high the day before, declining by 0.04% with yields of 4.04%. Earlier this week they were trading at yields of 4.03%, the lowest ever. On the other hand, index-linked 10-year bonds rose 0.18% with yields declining to 1.91%.

The Tel Bond indexes, which reflect the value of corporate bonds, showed increases of up to 0.17%. Among the standouts were Ampal-American Israel's B1 through B3 series (Aleph, Bet and Gimel), which rose by between 4% and 10% against the backdrop of a shareholders' meeting and expectation of a debt renegotiation agreement. The company's bonds are nonetheless trading at double- and triple-digit yields, reflecting investor concern about the firm's future repayment capacity. Discount Investment's B9 (Series Tet ) bonds declined in heavy trading yesterday at yields climbing to 18%.

The Ma'alot S&P rating agency confirmed the credit rating of the Ofer family's Melisron real estate firm at AA- with a negative outlook in advance of Melisron's plans to issue up to NIS 150 million in bonds. In other real estate news, TheMarker has reported that the Antitrust Commission intends to approve the Azrieli Group's acquisition of the One Plaza shopping center in Be'er Sheva from Eliezer Fishman's Industrial Building Corporation.

IDB Holding Corp. controlling shareholder Nochi Dankner has acquired an additional 108,000 shares of the company for NIS 1.5 million - the latest in a round of recent acquisitions that the firm said involved a total of NIS 32.5 million. Shares in the firm rose 5.8% Wednesday.