The Ticker: Isramco Shareholders Approve Merger With Naphtha and Hanal

Bank of Israel raises growth outlook for 2016 and 2017, holds interest rate at 0.1% | Shares mixed on second day of low turnover.

The Bank of Israel headquarters in Jerusalem.

Isramco shareholders approve merger with Naphtha and Hanal

A day after shareholders approved a merger between Delek Drilling and Avner, three more energy companies won backing yesterday from shareholders for a tie-up. Under a plan they approved by margins of more than 90%, minority shareholders of Isramco approved Hanal and Naphtha being merged into their company. The merger should help cut operating costs for the companies, but more importantly it reduces a tier in the pyramid structure of energy and real estate companies controlled by Kobi Maimon through his publicly traded company Equital. Isramco’s main asset is its 28.75% stake in the Tamar gas field, but it also holds 50% of the Shimshon and 65% of the Daniel licenses. Shares of Naphtha ended down 2.3% to 13.76 shekels ($3.60) and Hanal was 0.5% lower at 29.50. Isramco, which just before the merger declared a 54-cent a share dividend, gained 0.15% to 65 agorot. (Eran Azran)

Bank of Israel raises growth outlook for 2016 and 2017, holds interest rate at 0.1%

The Bank of Israel raised its forecasts for economic growth yesterday while holding its benchmark interest rate at 0.1%. It forecast growth would reach 3.5% in 2016, up from 2.8% previously, citing higher than expected third-quarter growth of an annualized 3.2%.It raised its forecast for growth next year to 3.2% from 3.1% and predicted a 3.1% expansion for 2018, with the economy expected to become more reliant on exports in the next two years and less on consumer spending. The bank’s economists predicted the benchmark rate would remain at 0.1% until the third quarter of 2017 and then rise to 0.25% by the end of next year and to 0.5 % in 2018. Bank of Israel Governor Karnit Flug said she would not necessarily follow interest rate increases now being undertaken by the U.S. Federal Reserve, which said it sees annual inflation reaching 1% late next year after a long period of deflation. (Reuters)

Shares mixed on second day of low turnover

Tel Aviv shares ended mixed in another day of unusually light trading. The blue chip TA-25 index eked out an 0.03% gain to end at 1,461.80 points, while the TA-100 edged down 0.04% to 1,272.29, as just 784 million shekels ($205 million) in shares changed hands. Among gainers, Vilar rose 12.65% to 84.19 shekels in unusually heavy trading for the company and Strauss Group led TA-100 shares higher on a 1.7% rise to 60.07. Rami Levy finished down 2% to 155.80 after Rami Levy himself took advantage of a 14% run-up in the shares this year to sell a 3.45% stake in the company to institutional investors at 154.20 shekels each. Nearly all sectors were lower, but real estate and tech shares rose as groups ended in plus territory. Ormat Technologies led the tech gains, adding 1.15% to 202 shekels and Azrieli Group topped real estate stocks on an 0.8% advance to 163.60. (Uri Tomer)