Market Report / Indexes Stumble Into Weekend

The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange limped into the weekend yesterday, much as it has done over the past few sessions. The TA-25 shed 0.1 percent yesterday to close at 815.51 points. The TA-100 lost 0.2 percent to end at 829.13, and the Tel-Tech fell a further 0.5 to close at 345.73 points. The TA-25 was off 0.5 percent for the week, while the TA-100 slid 1.2 percent.

In addition, Wednesday's falls in New York - due to concerns that economic growth is slowing and that interest rates would rise - further burdened yesterday's trade. Turnover stood around NIS 2 billion, as expiring options accounted for a relatively high NIS 950 million.

Financial reports continued to flow in yesterday for the second quarter. Strauss-Elite (TASE: STEL) reported a ninefold jump in profits to NIS 170 million for the quarter, thanks mainly to the sale of its Ramat Gan site. Investors received the news coldly, as company shares sank 0.7 percent. Strauss competitor Osem barely fared better, with its shares losing 0.4 percent of their value.

Bank Leumi (TASE: LUMI) will report its results next week, which are expected to be good. This helped buoy the stock, which slid a mere 0.1 percent. Bank Hapoalim (TASE: POLI) shares, on the other hand, dropped a more precipitous 0.9 percent. However, Union Bank (TASE: UNON) was the big loser among banks, as the sixth largest company in this group reported a 26-percent squeeze in profits. Investors pummeled the stock, sending it 2 percent southward.

Israel Chemicals (TASE: ICL) yesterday rode the surge of Wednesday's boisterous report to an all-time high, gaining 1.2 percent.

Wood and paper company Albaad (TASE: ALBA) shares surged 13 percent on lively turnover of NIS 2.7 million - tens of times more than its average. The stock broke out after the company reported a 50-percent jump in net profits to NIS 6 million, after having struggled for the previous two years.

Teva Pharmaceuticals (TASE: TEVA) fell off 0.1 percent at the end of trading, despite announcing yesterday it was closing a production plant in Puerto Rico and laying off 550 workers. Teva hopes the move will save the company $45 million in 2007.

Among other major companies of note, Makhteshim Agan (TASE: MAIN) shares climbed up 1.1 percent and The Israel Corporation (TASE: ILCO) shares gained 0.7 percent.