Tel Aviv Stocks Gained 0.5% After Quiet Options Expiry on Thursday

Israel Corporation shares soared 36% during the second quarter

Tel Aviv blue chips stocks advanced 0.5% on Thursday, ending the second quarter of 2007 with a gain of 12.5%.

The star of the index was The Israel Corporation, shares of which soared 36% during the quarter.

Smaller companies have also done well this year: The Midcap-30 index rose 20% from the year's start. It gained 9% in the last month alone.

The last trading day of June opened with one of the dullest expiries that the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange has ever known. Options on the TA-25 index expire on the last Thursday of each trading month. Usually institutionals strive to manipulate the index in favor of their positions in the days and minutes ahead of the expiry, which is shortly after the opening.

Turnovers are typically enormous on Thursdays on which options expire, but today it was NIS 610 million, which is a very low figure compared with expiry days of recent months. Some expiry mornings commanded turnovers of NIS 2 billion and more.

The TA-25 index was up 1.4% at the expiry and sustained a 1% gain afterwards. The index gradually receded however and ended 0.5% higher.

The total volume of trade was heavy at NIS 2.7 billion.

The day was an eventful one and not only because of President Moshe Katsav's plea bargain. On Sunday the TASE's twice-annual revision of indices comes into force. The Tel Aviv Real Estate-15 index gained Elbit Medical Imaging and lost Azorim. Nonetheless, Elbit Medical, which is, yes, mainly a real estate company, lost 1.1%. One might have expected it to advance ahead of the anticipated buying by index-tracking investment vehicles on Sunday. Azorim sank 2.1%.

Oil Refineries joins the TA-25 index in the stead of IDB Holding, which added 2.5%. Oil Refineries dropped 2.7%.

Among the dual-listed pack, Teva gained 0.6% despite announcing a tentative FDA nod for its generic version of a herpes tablet, Nice Systems inched up 0.1% and Elbit Systems fell 1.1% despite announcing yet more new deals.

The banks had led the downtrend on the TASE earlier this week. The Banks index closed the week 4.6% lower but actually, today the index gained 1.1%. From the start of the week, the index of the five biggest banks has risen by 3%. Leumi added 0.4% and Bank Hapoalim gained 2.3%.