Business in Brief / Violence Leaves Tel Aviv Shares Lower, but Shekel, Bonds Hold Steady

Moody's affirms Israel's credit rating; Stratasys' MarkerBot unit cuts 20% of staff.

Bloomberg

Violence leaves Tel Aviv shares lower, but shekel, bonds hold steady

The wave of violence finally caught up with the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange Thursday as shares dropped sharply in light trading. The benchmark TA-25 index ended down 1% at 1,519.72 points, while the TA-100 lost 0.9% to a 1.325.41 finish, with just 954 million shekels ($247.3 million) in shares changing hands. But the shekel was steady at 3.8480 against the dollar and the euro gained just 0.3% to 4.3460. The bond market was also quiet, with the government’s 10-year shekel bond edging up 0.07% to a yield of 2.15%. Finance stocks took the biggest hit, with Harel Insurance down 3.1% at 18.76, Mizrahi Tefahot Bank off 2.8% at 45.35 and Bank Leumi down 1.2% at 15.23. Perrigo lost 1.8% to 600 shekels, but Teva Pharmaceuticals, the day’s volume leader, did a U-turn from Wednesday and finished up 2.45% at 226.20 shekels. BioTime was the biggest loser in the TA-100, dropping 6.2% to 12.47, after it said it would distribute a 75% stake in its Oncocyte unit as a stock dividend and list them for trading on the Nasdaq. (Eran Azran)

Moody’s affirms Israel’s credit rating

The international credit rating agency Moody’s affirmed Israel’s A-1 credit rating late on Wednesday. “Israel’s economic growth has outpaced that of most advanced industrial economies over the past decade, supported by a competitive high-tech export sector, substantial spending on research and development and a well-educated labor force,” said Kristin Lindow, a Moody’s senior vice president and coauthor of the report. Moody’s forecast that Israel’s 2015 budget deficit would be below the target 2.5% of gross domestic product, but higher spending in 2016 would likely see the deficit widening to 2.9%. The report didn’t relate to the upsurge of violence in recent weeks, but it did say Israel could face “downward pressure” on its credit rating of geopolitical tensions heightened, threatening Israel’s economic stability. Moody’s faulted Israel’s “volatile and divisive” political system for preventing the government from getting a better handle on the deficit. (TheMarker)

Stratasys’ MarkerBot unit cuts 20% of staff 

MarkerBot, a unit of the U.S.-Israeli 3-D printer maker Stratasys, said Thursday it was laying off a fifth of its staff and taking other cost-cutting measures, citing a failure to meet sales goals. “For the last few quarters, we did not meet our ambitious goals and we have to make significant changes to ensure MakerBot’s future growth and success,” CEO Jonathan Jaglom said in a statement. It was the second wave of layoffs this year  for the company. MarkerBot was acquired by Stratasys — which in contrast to MarkerBot’s consumer line of 3-D printers is focused on industrial applications — for $600 million back in 2013. Other spending cuts call for consolidating research and development at MarkerBot’s Brooklyn headquarters and contracting out manufacturing of fourth-generation products. Shares of Stratasys were 4.7% higher at $31.67 at midday local time in New York. (TheMarker)