Market Report / Tamar Shares Fall as Stocks Hit Record Heights

Tel Aviv stocks ambled north yesterday. With no fanfare, the benchmark index broke through 1,300 points, a level of psychological (if no other ) significance.

Analysts postulating as to why stocks are spiking when the economic uncertainties are so great, point at the alternatives. Relatively safer financial assets such as government bonds aren't providing the kind of returns to sate the hungry, they explain.

That may explain why the Tel Aviv index hit new heights yesterday. The benchmark TA-25 index gained 0.8% to 1,304 points and the TA-100 index added the same to 1,203 points. The Banks-5 index led the uptrend with a 1.7% gain. Total turnover was heavy at NIS 2.1 billion.

Elsewhere in the world, European shares rose for a sixth straight day, the longest winning streak in five months, on optimism for the economy. They didn't rise much: The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 inched up 0.3% to 1,129.12 points, its highest close since September 2008.

Over in Asia, Japanese shares advanced 0.8% to a seven-month high, and Chinese stocks showed resilience to Beijing's efforts to curb inflation. The market has been jittery about tightening steps in China, so investors in Tokyo greeted with relief an increase in banks' reserve-requirement ratios on Friday.

Back on the kibbutz, the news of the day was that Israel Corporation, which controls the fuel-guzzling behemoth Israel Chemicals, gave up waiting for Israeli companies to produce gas from the deep-sea field Tamar and signed an agreement with Egypt, covering roughly half its needs. It will still buy the other half from the Tamar partners.

Shares of Israel Corporation gained 2.1% and shares of ICL gained 2.6%. But stock in the Tamar partnership took a hit: Isramco tumbled 6.6%, Delek Drilling fell 3.2% and Avner receded by 5%.

While on oil and gas, shares of Israel Opportunity fell 4% after the partnership and its other partners at the Sarit license admitted that nothing but saltwater had been found at their onshore A3 site.

Ness Technologies gained 18% on rumors that somebody wants to buy the multinational software house. Ness said it doesn't comment on rumors.

Evogene gained 3.6% on reports of an alliance with Bayer CropScience to improve wheat crops. Bayer is investing $12 million in Evogene.