Market Report / Massive Sell Order Takes Out TASE

A massive NIS 2 billion sell order by a mutual fund knocked out trading on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange during the pre-closing phase yesterday. The errant sell order for shares in the blue-chip Tel Aviv-25, apparently filed by a Mabat exchange-traded note, sent the share prices of Teva and the banks plummeting 99% and the Tel Aviv-25 down 29%, triggering the exchange to halt trading.

"During closing trade, during the phase of calculating the index, large sell orders were filed for stocks on the Tel Aviv-25 that caused the index calculated by the bourse to drop, setting off the circuit breaker," the TASE said. It hadn't figured out how to fix the glitch.

The TASE delayed the pre-closing phase yesterday by half an hour, to between 5:10 and 5:15 P.M.

And back to business

Excitement aside, nearly every Tel Aviv index finished the day with gains, in keeping with global trends. The Tel Aviv-25 finished at 1,168 points, a 0.1% gain, while the broader Tel Aviv-100 closed at 1,100 points, up 0.2%. The Banks-5 lost 0.3% and the Real Estate-15 rose 0.7%.

Following the publication of the January consumer price index, which surprised analysts with a 0.7% drop, market watchers became even surer that Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer will leave interest rates unchanged. Government shekel bonds finished trading with an upward trend yesterday.

Meanwhile, the bailiff's office announced that there were 3.5 million cases against debtors in 2009. Seven percent more cases were opened compared with 2008 due to the financial crisis. The number of cases closed was up only 4.5%.

Shares in Tao Tsuot fell 22% yesterday after the holding company's controlling shareholder Ilan Ben Dov sold 30 million shares and 30 million warrants for NIS 15 million - equal to 19% of his voting rights. Ben Dov is thought to have done this to increase the public's holding to more than NIS 24 million so the company can stay off the TASE's watch list.

Nice Systems beat forecasts for the fourth quarter with revenues of $158.8 million, 9.8% more than in the third quarter and 2.8% less than in the fourth quarter of 2008. The company's stock climbed 3%.

Given Imaging, meanwhile, unveiled revenues of $40 million for the fourth quarter, up 18% from a year earlier. Operating profit of $4.5 million compared with a $3.4 million operating loss. The stock jumped 5.6%.

Gilat Satellites reported a 14.8% fall in 2009 revenues to $228 million. The stock inched up 0.1%.

Good news for Teva: Private Swedish investment fund EQT is no longer in the running to buy German company Ratiopharm, so Teva is only competing against one other suitor for Europe's leading generics manufacturer. The CEO also presented the company's profit forecast for 2010: $4.40 to $4.60 per share on sales of $16 million - 15% more than in 2009. Teva's stock lost 1.5%.

Financial Levers' shares dropped 8.2% yesterday following a 81% gain since the start of the month over its plans to take part in natural gas exploration.

Tower Semiconductors gained 5.8% on one of the day's highest turnovers after it announced a plan to expand its production capacity to meet customers' orders. The company currently has more orders than it can handle.

Supermarket tycoon Rami Levy, in partnership with Nahor, is expected to win the contract to purchase the Holyland complex in Jerusalem, for NIS 145.5 million. The nine-dunam lot, currently owned by Nidar, is districted for 265 housing units and 1,600 square meters of commercial space. The apartments are expected to bring in NIS 400 million to NIS 600 million in revenues. The stock of Levy's eponymous company inched down 0.03%.