Market Report / TASE Ends Higher for Fourth Straight Session

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Tel Aviv Stock Exchange shares ended higher for the fourth straight session Tuesday, led by bank, telecommunications and biotechnology shares.

The benchmark TA-25 index advanced 0.8% to 1,205.01 points, the highest close since January 17, while the broader TA-100 rose nearly 1% to 1,073.73. Turnover, however, was a light NIS 765.5 million.

"The Tel Aviv exchange is continuing to show stability, especially against the background of the declines in New York [the day before]," said Ariel Mazouz, senior investments manager at Prico Risk Management. "We're seeing a big movement of money from government bonds and the Tel-Bond indices toward stocks and low-rated bonds."

U.S. stocks rose Tuesday as investors sought bargains following the market's worst daily session since November on Monday and more companies reported results that were stronger than expected. Major stock indices had dropped about 1% in Monday's session, pressured by renewed worries over the euro zone's sovereign debt crisis.

European shares and the euro also bounced back Tuesday from the sell-off caused by rising political risks in southern Europe, as data confirmed that the region's economy is showing signs of recovery. The euro, which had taken the brunt of the selling, and which had fallen from a high of over $1.37 at the end of last week to under $1.35 on Monday, rose 0.3% to trade at $1.3560.

In the local foreign currency market, both the dollar and euro gained on the shekel. The U.S. currency advanced 0.16% to a Bank of Israel rate of NIS 3.6910 while the euro breached the NIS 5 mark, appreciating 0.05% to NIS 5.002.

On the TASE, the TA-Biomed index led the way, adding 2.2% to close at 853.32 points. Protalix soared 19.3%, making it the biggest gainer among TA-100 shares. The Calcalist financial daily said yesterday that the board of the biotechnology company, which specializes in recombinant therapeutic proteins, had retained Citigroup to advise it on the sale of the company at a $1 billion valuation, double its TASE market cap. Among prospective buyers, the report said, was the U.S. company Pfizer.

Bezeq led the TA-Telecommunications index higher, to close on a 3.5% gain on turnover of NIS 38.1 million. Israel's biggest telecom group said yesterday that it expects 2013 net profit to be little changed from last year, putting it slightly above analysts' forecasts. The company forecast 2013 net profit of between NIS 1.7 billion and NIS 1.8 billion. Analysts' consensus forecast for 2013 net profit was NIS 1.55 billion, according to Thomson Reuters.

Allot Communications rose 5.7%. The provider of service optimization solutions for fixed and mobile broadband networks reported a fourth-quarter 2012 loss of $15.1 million. Adjusted earnings were 14 cents a share, two cents more than the average of 12 predicted by analysts polled by Thomson Reuters. Allot shares had fallen by a fifth this year, in expectation of poor results.

Delek Automotive, the importer of Mazdas, Fords and BMWs, rose 2.4% to NIS 35.91 after Bank Leumi raised its recommendation on the stock from Market Perform to Market Outperform, even though the stock has already enjoyed a 40% run-up in recent months. Leumi set a target price of NIS 40 for the stock.

Clal Industries, the holding company controlled by American billionaire Len Blavatnik, ended 5.5% higher. The company reached an agreement with closely held Acro Real Estate to sell half its rights in the Kitan Center compound in north Tel Aviv for NIS 80 million

Reuters contributed to this report.

Bezeq headquarters in Tel Aviv. Credit: Bloomberg

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