Market Report / Stocks Creep North

Tel Aviv blue chips advanced 0.5 percent yesterday, ending the second quarter with a gain of 12.5 percent. The star of the index was The Israel Corporation (TASE: ILCO), which soared 36 percent in the quarter.

Smaller companies have also done well. The Midcap-30 index has climbed 20 percent from the start of the year. It gained 9 percent in the last month alone.

Yesterday opened with one of the dullest expiries the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange has known. Options on the TA-25 index expire on the last Thursday of each month.

Turnover is typically enormous on the expiry day, but yesterday it was NIS 610 million, a very low figure compared with expiry days in recent months, when some expiry mornings saw turnovers above NIS 2 billion.

The TA-25 index was up 1.4 percent at the expiry. The index gradually receded, however, and ended 0.5 percent higher. Total turnover was heavy at NIS 2.7 billion.

The day was eventful, not only because of President Moshe Katsav's plea bargain. On Sunday the TASE's twice-annual index revision comes into force. The Tel Aviv Real Estate-15 index gained, while Elbit Medical Imaging (TASE: EMIT) and Azorim (TASE: AZRM) fell 1.1 percent and 2.1 percent respectively.

Oil Refineries (TASE: ORL) joins the TA-25 index in the place of IDB Holding (TASE: IDBH), which added 2.5 percent. Oil Refineries dropped 2.7 percent.

Among dual-listed firms, Teva (TASE: TEVA) gained 0.6 percent after announcing a tentative FDA nod for its generic version of a herpes tablet. Elbit Systems (TASE: ESLT) fell 1.1 percent despite announcing yet more new deals.The banks index closed the week 4.6 percent lower, but today the index gained 1.1 percent.