Market Report / TA Stocks Rise as World Exchanges Slump

Tel Aviv Stock Exchange indices rose across the board yesterday, while markets elsewhere around the world turned in mixed performances. Wall Street opened with firm gains, but European markets were mixed with a negative bias, though both losses and gains remained minor. Asian markets were also weak; although there too, the movements were small.

Local trading was choppy and marked by violent swings that led the TA-25 index to an intraday low of 1,194 points, before it rallied to close 0.6% higher, at 1,211 points, propelled by technology stocks.

The broader TA-100 index gained 0.6%, to close at 1,101 points, while the technology indices - Biomed, BlueTech-50 and TA-Technology - all gained more than 1%. Total turnover was heavier than usual of late, at NIS 1.8 billion.

Some equity analysts have been suggesting that the pullback in stocks has created opportunities to buy, but counsel investors to be selective. Bank Hapoalim, for one, wrote in its weekly review that it thinks stocks are attractive, for long-term investors.

"People are worried that economic growth will slow, that commodity prices will drop, that the United States will cease its quantitative easing program. They're worried about the geopolitical situation and they're worried that interest rates will rise more," Roy Laufer, head of the trading desk at DS, told TheMarker.

On the flip side, institutional investors were taking up stocks sold by jittery households and were lifting the indices, Laufer said.

Makhteshim Agan and Koor each gained well over 5% after the latter settled a looming class-action motion over the sale of the former to China National Chemical Corporation. (For more on that story, see Page 12. )

Among the day's big movers was TowerJazz, whose shares gained 7.4% on double its usual turnover. Almost all the gain came in the early afternoon, when the company upwardly revised its sales guidance for the year to $139 million.

Discount Bank shares also gained 7% after the bank said it had reached an agreement with its workers under which 400 would retire at an estimated cost to the bank of NIS 500 million. The agreement with the labor representatives guarantees some peace and quiet at Israel's third-biggest bank - until April 2013, that is.

Another gainer among the TA-25 pack was food manufacturer Osem, which climbed 2.5%. The two big banks, Leumi and Hapoalim, each rose 0.7% on heavy turnover.

For their part, Petrochemical Enterprise bonds continued their southward plunge yesterday, losing between 3-5%. All in all, the bonds have lost about 8% on average during the last 30 days. The company's liabilities total NIS 2.2 billion and it has only an eighth of that amount in liquid resources. The company's stock lost 4% yesterday.