Market Report / Stocks Wilt; Africa Israel Drops 10% on Heavy Turnover

The real estate empire controlled by Lev Leviev lost 10.2%, which depressed the Real Estate-15 index by 3.7%.

Tel Aviv stocks fell yesterday in another session marked by Africa Israel's losing ground.

The real estate empire controlled by Lev Leviev lost 10.2%, which depressed the Real Estate-15 index by 3.7%.

On Sunday, after the market learned that liquidity-stressed Africa Israel didn't' know how to meet its liabilities after 2011, its stock fell 26%.

The next day it lost 13% but on Tuesday the share price rebounded by 8%. Well, the uptick didn't last. Yesterday turnover in Africa Israel was NIS 70 million, out of fairly low total turnover of NIS 1.6 billion.

Yesterday the benchmark TA-25 index lost 1.2% to end at 949 points, and the broader TA-100 index fell the same to 886 points. The Banks-5 index lost 2.1%. In fact, all the leading indexes lost ground yesterday.

Certainly, world markets provided some direction. Wall Street began the day flat after three straight days of declines, with data on the job market and factory orders disappointing yesterday. Investors are starting to think that the stock market rally overshot.

European shares were mixed with a negative bias for the third consecutive day; finance stocks moved deep in the doghouse. London's FTSE edged down by 0.4%.

No relief was to be found in Asia, where Hong Kong stocks sank to a 6-week low and the Japanese Nikkei index tumbled 2.4%. Chinese shares, however, bucked the blah and ambled ahead.

Over in this part of the world, the Bank of Israel revised its growth forecast for 2009 and 2010. This year it sees no growth at all, which is good news compared with its previous prediction of 1.5% contraction.

For the year 2010, the central bank now foresees 2.5% GDP growth, compared with its previous forecast of 1% growth.

Don't expect the upbeat news to affect jobs, though. The Bank of Israel also predicts unemployment of 8.1% in 2009, rising to 8.3% in 2010. At present unemployment is at 8% of the adult workforce.

Israel Chemicals lost 1.3% despite good news from German potash company K+S. The rival company said it expects a 50% surge in potash sales next year, as global demand recovers after its steep drop in 2009. Shares of ICL's parent company, Israel Corporation, lost 1.9%, as it struggles to keep its shipping subsidiary Zim afloat.

Shares of Ilan Ben-Dov's company Scailex gained 1.5%, as it set off on a gigantic funding round. The company intends to raise NIS 800 million to pay part of the NIS 5.29 billion bill for Partner Communications. Ben-Dov won the tender issued by Hutchison Whampoa for a 51% controlling interest in the Israeli cellular services provider. Now he has to pay for it. Shares of Partner, while we are on the subject, ended a hair over the flatline.

Shares of Yitzhak Tshuva's Delek Group fell 2.5%.