Market Report / Suesskind Surprise? Teva Dives 3%

Trading volumes were also heavy in Israel Chemicals (ICL) and agrochemicals maker Makhteshim Agan.

Tel Aviv stocks ended slightly lower yesterday after Wall Street's hesitant opening wasn't the stuff to turn the day-long downtrend into a last-minute rally.

The TA-25 index lost 0.2 percent to 1,229 points, though from the start of October, the blue-chip index has risen an impressive (some might say, worrying) 7.3 percent. The TA-100 index lost 0.4 percent to 1,183 points. In the last month the large-cap index has advanced 6.6 percent.

Traders say the Bank of Israel's decision on Monday to leave its lending rates unchanged at 4.0 percent didn't move the market one whit, mainly because no change had been expected. Moreover, many analysts expect the central bank to leave Israeli rates unchanged throughout the year, though many argue that in the longer run, local interest rates are fated to increase.

Bonds retreated yesterday, with fixed-income Shahars trending down and Galils losing a steep 0.4 percent.

Teva Pharmaceutical, meanwhile, tumbled 3.1 percent on elephantine turnover of NIS 440 million, a fifth of the total turnover in stocks and bonds. Teva, a heavyweight that comprises 9.5 percent of the TA-25 index, reported third-quarter results that did not disappoint. But it may have shocked investors with news that Chief Financial Officer Dan Suesskind, a man deeply identified with the generic drugs giant, is leaving the company. He's being replaced by a known quantity, Eyal Desheh, the CFO of Check Point Software Technologies, a well-known Israeli company listed on Wall Street.

Trading volumes were also heavy in Israel Chemicals (ICL) and agrochemicals maker Makhteshim Agan. ICL finished the day unchanged on turnover of NIS 254 million and Makhteshim Agan gained 0.7 percent after NIS 150 million had changed hands.

The Real Estate-15 index lost ground: Large-cap Africa Israel ended unchanged while Chaim Katzman's Gazit Globe climbed 2.3 percent. It has gained 9 percent so far as this week as it maneuvers to make a hostile takeover of geothermal energy company Ormat Industries.

Bank shares eased, but the biggest of the lot, Bank Hapoalim, gained 1 percent and its slightly smaller rival Bank Leumi dropped 1.4 percent.

Among the TA-25 stocks, The Israel Corporation continued to stand out. The company, which is controlled by Sammy and Idan Ofer, advanced 0.4 percent. In the last week it has risen 10 percent, and so far this year, shares of the holding company have surged 95 percent, making it the best-performing stock in the TA-25 index.

Equity analyst Yuval Zehira of the Tel Aviv-based brokerage IBI issued a report on the Ofer family firm The Israel Corporation yesterday, predicting that despite its startling gains so far, the stock's northward drive isn't over yet. He predicts an upside of 10 percent in the year to come.