Shares End Lower, With Banks Leading the Way

Dip follows Bank of Israel’s announcement of plans to increase bank transparency.

Eran Ezran
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Eran Ezran

Tel Aviv shares ended lower on Tuesday as markets in Europe and the United States trended lower and bank shares fell.

The benchmark TA-25 index ended 0.3% lower at 1,297.97 points, falling 3% short of its all-time record in April 2011 of 1,338, while the broader TA-100 was off 0.2% to 1,172.73. Turnover was a moderate NIS 1.04 billion.

Bank shares led the market lower, with the TA-Banking index down 1% at 1,268.56 after the Bank of Israel said late on Monday it planned a series of measures to increase bank transparency vis a vis their clients and enhancing competition. Mizrahi Tefafot was down 1.6%, First International Bank of Israel 1.3% and Bank Leumi 1.2% by close.

On Wall Street, stocks fell on Tuesday, as investors took profit following two days of gains, ahead of data later in the week they hoped would give a clearer indication of the strength of the U.S. economy.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 0.6%, to 15,551.78, the Standard & Poor's 500 and the Nasdaq Composite both lost  0.5% to 1,758.76 and 3,918.838, respectively.

European shares slipped off a five-year high on Tuesday, led lower by car-makers and insurers as more European blue chips undershot earnings expectations. At 1540 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was down 0.3% at 1,289.41 points, after rising as high as 1,297.29 in early trade, a level not seen since mid-2008.

In local foreign currency trading, the dollar and the euro both weakened against the shekel. The greenback edged lower less than 0.03% to a Bank of Israel rate of NIS 3.5320 while the euro lost 0.12% to NIS 4.7667.

In fixed-income trading, the Tel-Bond 20, 40 and 60 indices lost as much as 0.15%. Oil Refineries Series Bet bonds dropped 0.6%, raising their yield to 8.9%, ahead of a rights offering aimed at shoring up the company's shaky balance sheet. Africa Israel Investments Series Kaf Vav bonds rose 1.25% ahead of an early redemption for part of the series.

Housing & Construction Limited said on Monday it bondholders had agreed to swap some NIS 1 billion of short-term debt for bonds with maturities of 10 years or more.

Teva Pharmaceuticals posted its first rise in seven sessions, rising 1% on turnover of NIS 63.9 million, making it the most active share of the day. The company on Monday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stay an appeals court ruling that would strip its $4 billion-a-year multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone of its patent protection in 2014 rather than 2015.

Biotech shares OPKO Healthcare and Evogene extended their Monday gains, with OPKO rising another 2.1% on its 4.3% advance on Monday and by Evogene adding 1.6% to its 4.6% gain. However, Clal Biotechnology slumped 2.3% and Compugen lost 1.9%.

Space Communications, which operates the Amos satellites, rose for the third time in four days after a string of losses, after it reported overcoming technical glitches at its Amos 5 satellite and winning a contract for expanded services for Amos 4. Shares advanced 2.8%.

Other comeback stocks included Babylon, which jumped 8.9%, adding to a 15% rise in the previous two trading days. The stock tumbled last week after Google said it was ending its contract with the online translation company.

Tzahi Sultan, a controlling shareholder in Modiin Energy, revealed on Monday he had accumulated an 8.3% stake for NIS 3.8 million in Globe Exploration, an oil explorer whose shares had risen close to 50% on Sunday on the buying. They have since retreated by more than 25%, including a 4.2% drop on Monday.

Reuters contributed to this report.

The Bank Leumi logo on the front of the company's headquarters in Tel Aviv, Israel.Credit: Bloomberg