Market Report / Tel Aviv Stocks Leap on Global Upswing

Israeli stocks surged yesterday as exchanges around the world rallied. Investors regained their yen for riskier assets following some progress in resolving Japan's nuclear crisis. Oil also rose however, as western forces continued aerial attacks on Libya and protests spread in the Middle East. In a sign of some normalcy returning to the markets following Japan's crises, Wall Street's VIX "fear gauge" posted its largest daily drop since May.

Asian exchanges gained ground, with the exception of Tokyo, which was closed for the day. European markets also traded on the upside with one exception - a slight dip in Copenhagen. German, French and Spanish benchmark indexes all rose well over 2%.

In Israel, the benchmark TA-25 index gained 1.8% to close at NIS 1,290 points. The broader TA-100 index advanced 1.8% to 1,181 pts and bank shares added 2.1%. Real estate stocks gained 3.2%. Total turnover was normal to heavy at NIS 2 billion.

Among Israeli stocks, Cellcom stood out with a 3.3% gain after announcing intentions of raising up to NIS 500 million in a bond offering to the general public, expanding existing series of debentures. Some of the proceeds, if the offering is held, will be used to effect the merger with NetVision, announced last week.

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries lost 0.8% against the trend after Novartis received European Medicines Agency approval for Gilenya, a rival to the Israeli company's multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone. Gilenya is approved in the European Union for people with highly active relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis despite treatment with beta interferon, or in patients with rapidly evolving severe RRMS, Novartis said on Monday. Gilenya's first-mover advantage may allow it to dominate the market and some analysts believe it could become a $3 billion-a-year-plus seller.

Shares of Direct Insurance gained 8% yesterday after (the day before ) the company reported a 38% increase in revenues for 2010 to NIS 1.5 billion. Net profit increased by 63% year over year to nearly NIS 93 million. (With reporting by Reuters)