Tel Aviv shares fell for the first time in four sessions when down by telecommunications stocks.
The benchmark TA-25 index of blue chips and the broader TA-100 both dropped 0.1% to 1,311.55 and 1,189.82 points, respectively, as NIS 1.22 billion in shares changed hands. Babylon moved sharply on a spate of news both good and bad ending with a gain of 13% for the day (see story on this page), but otherwise the market traded quietly.
Telecommunications stocks led the way lower, with the TA-Communications index down 1.1% at the close at 765.67 points. Cellcom Israel ended down 2.1% and Partner Communications by 1.2%, the latter after it announced a strategic tie-up with closely held Hot Communications. Bezeq lost 0.9% while Space Communications, the operator of the Amos satellites, dropped dropped 0.9%.
Insurance stocks were the day's biggest gainers, with the TA-Insurance index finishing on a 1.7% rise to 1,574.16. The sector was led by gains of 2.4% each for Migdal and Phoenix
U.S. stocks barely budged on Monday in thin trading after investors found little reason to add significant new positions with the Dow and the S&P 500 on a five-week winning streak. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.9% in early afternoon at 15,775.98. The Standard & Poor's 500 inched up 0.02% to 1,771.00 and the Nasdaq Composite Index was flat at 3,919.35.
Europe's top shares rose, led by health care stocks after well-received acquisitions in the sector, with gains capped by steep drops for broadcaster BSkyB and insurer RSA. The FTSEurofirst 300 closed 0.3% higher to 1,298.52, building on five straight weeks of gains, while the euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 firmed 0.6% to 3,052.83.
In foreign currency trading, the euro again weakened against the shekel while the dollar held steady. The euro lost about 0.15% of its value to a Bank of Israel rate of NIS 4.7351 while the greenback was down 0.03% at NIS 3.5350.
Currency trader FXCM noted in a comment on Monday that the dollar moved little against the shekel last week despite its volatility globally, especially against the euro, which it ascribed to the better-than-expected economic data coming out of the United States., The data point to the U.S. Federal Reserve paring back its stimulus program faster than previously expected.
"If the dollar continues to strengthen globally, the odds are that the shekel dollar rate will break out higher," FXCM said, saying the direction might be determined by remarks this week by Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen and other Fed officials.
Energy explorer Givot rose .72% after it reported it found natural gas and oil at its Meged 6 drilling, although the company said it was too early to say whether the quantities found are commercially recoverable.
Given Imaging, the maker of a camera-in-a-capsule for diagnosing digestive ailments, rose 3.9% after Japan's Central Social Insurance Medical Council has approved the recommendation by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare to provide reimbursement for Given Imaging's PillCam Colon.
Other biotech companies were mostly higher, Compugen gaining2.3% for the day while Collplant advanced 1.6% after the medical device company reported on Monday that it had completed an agreement for the Chinese company Trauwin to take a a 10% stake in the company for $2.5 million, or 53 agorot a share. Bio-View added 3.1% after the Chinese company Kindstar Global said it would start talks to market Bio-View's lung cancer detection technology in China following a successful pilot study. Evogene ended down 1.9%
Reuters contributed to this report.