Market Report / Gains All Around

The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange continued to head north yesterday with all the major indexes posting pleasant gains, despite declines on Wall Street in recent days and weakness on the European exchanges.

The Maof gained 1.8 percent to reach 374 points, with most of the Maof shares gaining between one percent to five percent.

The Tel Aviv 100 added 1.6 percent and the Tel-Tech index closed up 1.12 percent.

Turnover was relatively high in comparison to recent days at NIS 240 million.

Market players put the TASE's strong showing this week down to the relatively quiet security situation and Finance Minister Silvan Shalom's statements concerning a large cut in the 2003 budget.

Another popular explanation is that indexes have reached such low levels that many companies are trading under their equity.

The banking sector was particularly strong yesterday, with Bank Hapolaim gaining 2 percent and Bank Leumi gaining 2.5 percent. FIBI, the controling shareholder in the First International Bank of Israel, gained 4.3 percent, on top of a 6 percent gain over the previous two days.

Israel Discount Bank has also fared well this week on reports that Bank Leumi and Bank Hapoalim are interested in buying its subsidiary Discount New York.

Yesterday Israel Discount Bank gained 0.64 percent on top of its 4.6 percent gain the previous day.

This week's gains have been a respite for the banking sector, which has suffered sharp losses this year as a result of problematic business results and concerns that they will be required to make further large provisions for doubtful debt in the coming quarters.

Teva Pharmaceuticals went against the trend, closing down 3.5 percent on turnover of NIS 39 million, the heaviest of the session, after opening with a negative arbitrage gap of 2 percent. Discount investments soared 5 percent and Co-Op Blue Square gained 4.2 percent.

On the foreign exchange market, the dollar slipped back to its lowest level since the end of March.

The representative rate was set at NIS 4.726, down 0.57 percent from Monday's rate.

The dollar continued to slide later in the afternoon's trade and closed at around NIS 4.71.

With the dollar slipping, shekel-denominated bonds gained sharply.

Long-term Shahar 2681 bonds climbed 2 percent, while other shekel bonds gained from 0.8 percent to 1.5 percent.