Market Report / Tel Aviv Stocks Join Europe in Late-hour Leap

Tel Aviv share prices joined world levels at about midday following optimism about Greece.

Tel Aviv shares roared to close well into the green after a sleepy start to the day. Share prices spent most of the session gently going nowhere on thin turnover, but joined the world in a wild rally starting midday on sudden optimism about Greece. In Israel, the rally arrived in late afternoon trading, lifting total turnover to a still-thin NIS 1.6 billion.

The Greek parliament appears increasingly likely to approve vital austerity measures this week. But it might not; Greece could yet totter toward default. Greek legislators will be voting today and tomorrow on a number of austerity measures, which must be passed into law if Greece wants the next European Union infusion of 12 billion euros.

If Greece doesn't get the money, investors fear a Europe-wide crisis and potential credit market freeze. Yet yesterday the sentiment was that a solution for Greece is on the horizon, and investors went for stocks.

Why everybody turned so chirpy is anybody's guess. Yesterday the protests in Greece against more austerity took a violent turn. Hooded youths throwing stones and wielding sticks set fire to garbage bins and a telecom truck outside parliament, and riot police fired tear gas to disperse them. Trade unions began a 48-hour strike against the EU/IMF-imposed measures.

Screens in Europe were green across the board yesterday, also showing an upswing from about noon. German stocks had been under water until then but finished 0.9% higher, while France's benchmark CAC-40 index finished with gains of nearly 1.5%.

Over in Israel, no sector stood out: All the leading indexes gained between 1.3% and 1.6%, with the exception of the Tel-Com index. It was dragged down by Cellcom and Partner Communications. The benchmark TA-25 index closed 1.3% higher at 1,225 points. The broader TA-100 index gained 1.5% to 1,112 points.

The highest turnover of the day was in Cellcom. Shares of the mobile operator dropped 3.7% on turnover of NIS 450 million as Nochi Dankner, owner of the IDB group, sold 5% of the company's stock to Deutsche Bank, which promptly sold it to institutional investors. Dankner sold at a discount to the market price - which the stock has almost reached, closing at NIS 92.40.

Shares of another mobile operator, Partner Communications, fell 1.6% on turnover of NIS 19 million.

Shares of Discount Investment, the IDB group company that sold the Cellcom stock, gained 1.2%.

For all the TA-25's firm gain yesterday, a closer look shows that investors were selective. While the phone company Bezeq lost 0.2%, the HOT cable TV company gained 2.8% - and Internet Gold lost 0.6%. Another Internet service provider, NetVision, gained 0.5%.

El Al shares gained 2%. The airline, which was privatized in 2003, is negotiating to buy Israir from IDB group company IDB Tourism.

Shares of Fundtech sank 4.2% while stock of its parent company Clal Industries gained 1.3%.