Teva Leads TA-25 Lower in Very Thin Trading

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Teva Pharmaceuticals led Tel Aviv shares lower yesterday, but the most dramatic development was how thin trading volume was for the day, with just NIS 356.6 million in shares changing hands.

Teva, the world’s biggest maker of generic drugs, dropped 1.8% and was the most active stock of the day, albeit in volume of just NIS 37.5 million. The company’s $4 billion-a-year multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone will lose its patent protection in 2014 rather than 2015 because of a ruling from a U.S. appeals court on Friday, making it potentially prey to cheaper generics by next May.

The benchmark TA-25 index finished 0.1% lower at 1,227.94 points, but the broader TA-100 ended slightly higher – an 0.03% gain to 1,110.84 in a generally dull market.

In foreign currency trading on Friday, the dollar fell to a five-week low on expectations the Federal Reserve will underline its intention to keep interest rates low for a long time at its upcoming policy meeting. A Wall Street Journal report published online on Thursday contributed to the greenback’s latest fall. It said the Fed, which will begin a two-day policy meeting on Tuesday, may debate tweaking its forward guidance message to hammer home that it will not raise rates any time soon.

Against the shekel, the greenback weakened nearly 0.5% to a Bank of Israel rate of NIS 3.5770. The euro appreciated 0.16% to NIS 4.7540.

The market is awaiting the Bank of Israel’s August interest rate decision, which will be taken late on Monday, the first since Stanley Fischer stepped down as governor at the end of June. Assaf Shaul, deputy CEO for investments at Alfa Platinum Mutual Funds, said he expected the rate to remain unchanged, although there is room for a rate cut later in the current quarter.

“The shekel’s appreciation over the past week supports our forecast that inflation will be relatively lower for July and August, despite the increase in global commodities prices,” he said, putting inflation at 0.2% for July, 0.4% for August and 2.1% for the coming 12 months.

Despite the dollar’s setback on Friday, U.S. stocks managed to recover late in the day to end with a slim gain. The Dow Jones industrial average edged up 0.02% to 15,558.83 while the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index added 0.08% to 1,691.65 and the Nasdaq Composite Index 0.22% to 3,613.16.

The pan-regional FTSEurofirst 300 closed down 0.3%, its first weekly drop in over a month.

Avgol, the maker of non-woven fabrics, dropped 3.6% on relatively heavy turnover of NIS 17.8 million. Other big losers included Ceragon, the maker of wireless backhaul equipment for cellular telephone companies, which dropped 2.5%, Lev Leviev’s Africa Israel Investments, down 2.4%, and online translation company Babylon, which lost 2.1%.

Airline Knafaim Holdings rose 3.2% after it won a NIS 600 million contract to provide maintenance services for the Air Force’s M-3461 trainer jet over the next 20 years, serving as a subcontractor for Israel Aerospace Industries. Other gainers included semiconductor company EZchiop, whose 4.9% advance led the TA-100 for the biggest gain of the session, and Silicom, which extended its recovery with a 2.3% rise on Sunday.

Perrigo, the world’s biggest maker of generic over-the-counter pharmaceuticals, rose 3.2%. Perrigo and Forest Laboratories are preparing to submit takeover bids for Ireland’s Elan Corporation, which is expected to announce a sale as early as this week, Reuters reported last week.

Elbit Medical, jumped 8.25% after its 48%-owned InSightec unit said it had received approval from Chinese medical regulators for its Ex-Ablate devices, used to treat uterine fibroids and other conditions.

With reporting by Reuters.

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