Market Report / Israeli Stocks Follow World Downtrend

Stocks around the world, Israeli shares among them, pulled back yesterday as traders suggested that the roughly five-month rally by equities is showing signs of fatigue.
U.S. shares eased down from the opening after U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke told a Congressional committee that the labor market remains sluggish. The reaction was muted.

Over in Europe, Scandinavian exchanges were among the few that finished the session in the green, but not far into that territory. All other benchmark indexes in the continent gently pulled back. Trading was choppy, with major indexes swinging around the flatline, but not by any dramatic degree.

Asian markets also retreated across the board with the exception of Japan, with a gain of a whopping 0.04%. The steepest loser of the day was the Hang Seng, which dropped 1.4%.

Oil rose to new heights: Brent crude approached $102 a barrel yesterday as investors continued to sweat over potential supply disruptions while the situation in Egypt persists.
Back home in Israel, the benchmark TA-25 index lost 0.7% to close at 1,313 points and the broader TA-100 index lost 0.9% to 1,219 points. The Banks-5 index closed with a more decisive loss of 1.5%, while the index tracking real estate shares fell 1%.

Among the day’s more striking losers was Ratio Oil Exploration, which dived 9%, wiping out its gains from the last week of trading. The gains had been fueled by rumors that oil had been found in the depths of Leviathan, the deep-sea natural gas field being explored off Israel’s coast.

While the presence of gas has been proven, the presence of oil has not. While on Leviathan, earlier this week the partners involved there provided their first timeline for the field’s development. They project that development to be completed in 2016.
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries lost 0.8%, the day after losing 4.3%, after delivering forecasts that failed to enthrall investors. The dual-listed stock opened the trading day in Tel Aviv with a fat arbitrage gap, having lost 5.4% on Wall Street Tuesday night.

Shares of retail chain Super-Sol gained 1%. The company, which belongs to Nochi Dankner’s IDB group, kicked off the year-2010 reports season in Israel with a strong showing. The company said fourth-quarter sales increased by 1.6% year over year to NIS 2.79 billion, and that profit shot up 13.7% thanks to improved terms of trade to NIS 149 million.

Biopharma company Kamada is venturing into the growth industry of diabetes. The company is preparing to start Phase I/II clinical trials of its flagship drug AAT − anti-alpha adenosine triphosphate administered intravenously to treat type-1 diabetes. Kamada says it expects to start the tests in the first half of 2011, on 20 patients in Israel.