TA-25 Index falls; Shekel gains

By NEWS AGENCIES
May 15, 2007 07:33

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. rose after Citigroup Inc. raised its view on the shares of the world's largest maker of generic drugs.

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SHARES TEL AVIV Israeli shares, after reaching a record on Sunday, declined Monday led by Bank Hapoalim Ltd. which saw its stock fall after its chairman stepped down from his post. Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. rose after Citigroup Inc. raised its view on the shares of the world's largest maker of generic drugs. The TA-25 Index lost 2.24, or 0.2 percent, to 1,114.25 at the close in Tel Aviv as 13 shares declined, 11 advanced and one was unchanged. Investors bought and sold about NIS 2.23 billion in shares and convertibles. Hapoalim fell NIS 0.43, or 1.8%, to NIS 22.91 after Chairman Shlomo Nehama stepped down from his post on Monday. Hapoalim shares, including dividends paid to shareholders, have outperformed the benchmark TA-25 since Nehama took over as chairman in July 1998. The stock returned 283%, compared with 230% for the index, from the beginning of July 1998 through May 10, 2007. Teva rose NIS 3.40, or 2.2%, to NIS 159, and Citigroup expects Teva's share price to rise as high as $54 in 12 months, up from a previous estimate of $46, according to a note on Monday. Mylan Laboratories Inc. beat out Teva's bid for Merck KGaA's generic-drug unit on Sunday. "Mylan winning removes a significant overhang over Teva's share price as investors worried about possible earnings dilution from buying Merck," Citigroup analysts wrote in a report. Bezeq, Israel's largest telecommunication company, dropped NIS 0.09, or 1.4%, to NIS 6.67 after reports that Shlomo Nehama, the outgoing chairman of Bank Hapoalim, may not join Bezeq's board, Ma'ariv reported. Delek Group Ltd., a holding company with energy interests in the US, added NIS 11.20, or 1.2%, to NIS 921.20. Oil Refineries Ltd., Israel's biggest petroleum refiner, gained NIS 0.09, or 2.6%, to NIS 3.38. Discount Investment Corp., a holding company with interests in communications, added NIS 4, or 3%, to NIS 135.50, after Cellcom Israel Ltd., Israel's largest wireless phone provider and a unit of Discount, said first-quarter profit rose as it cut costs, and revenue from content services increased. Net income climbed to NIS 208 million, from NIS 145m. last year. Cellcom shares were up $1.75, or 8.1%, to $23.25 in afternoon trade on the New York Stock Exchange. Elbit Systems Ltd. advanced NIS 1.70, or 1%, to NIS 176.60. Israel's biggest non-government defense company will probably say first-quarter net income increased to 51 cents a share from 35 cents a year earlier, not counting one-time items, according to the median estimate of three analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News. Elbit will report Tuesday before the US market opens. Jacada Ltd. surged NIS 0.90, or 6.2%, to NIS 15.36. The maker of software used by Citibank posted a first-quarter profit of $468,000, compared with a net loss of $674,000 last year, the company said. The shekel gained to a Bank of Israel fixing of NIS 3.9740 per dollar from NIS 3.9827 on May 11. The currency was trading at NIS 3.9650 at 5:42 p.m. in Tel Aviv. The shekel is the fifth-best-performer against the dollar this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. WALL STREET US stocks were lower Monday afternoon but shares of carmakers rose after DaimlerChrysler AG sold its Chrysler unit to a private-equity firm and on speculation Ford Motor Co.'s founding family may divest part of its controlling stake. Nokia's US-traded shares climbed to a five-year high, sparking a rally among telecommunications companies, after the world's largest maker of mobile phones boosted its second-quarter market-share forecast. The S&P 500 Index was down 4 points, or 0.3%, to 1,501.90 while the Nasdaq Composite Index lost 18.23, or 0.7%, to 2,543.94 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 10.97, or 0.1%, to 13,314.25. EUROPE European stocks fell. Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index decreased 0.2% to 388.91 at the close in London after earlier gaining 0.4%, the Stoxx 50 lost 0.4% and the Euro Stoxx 50, a measure for the 13 nations sharing the euro, slid 0.2%. National benchmarks declined in 11 of 18 markets in western Europe. Germany's DAX lost 0.3%, the UK's FTSE 100 fell 0.2% to 6,555.50 and France's CAC 40 slipped 0.4%. ASIA Asian stocks climbed, led by Hong Kong's biggest advance in 10 months after China's government said it would let banks buy shares outside the mainland for the first time. All 10 industry groups on the Morgan Stanley Capital International Asia-Pacific Index advanced. China Mobile Ltd. and Jiangxi Copper Co. paced gains on speculation Chinese companies whose shares trade in Hong Kong will benefit from the rule change. The MSCI Index added 0.9% to 149.82 at 7:20 p.m. in Tokyo, ending a two-day, 1.1% slide. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index surged 2.5% to a high, its largest gain since June 30, as shares worth HK $95b. ($12.2b.) changed hands, a record. Benchmarks also reached new highs in China, South Korea and Singapore, and gained elsewhere, except in Taiwan, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average added 0.7% to 17,677.94. CURRENCY In early afternoon trading in New York, the euro traded at $1.3544, compared with $1.3525 late Friday. The dollar was quoted at 120.32 yen, compared with 120.12, while the British pound stood at $1.9805 vs. $1.9821. The dollar changed hands at $1.2195, compared with 1.2185 francs. COMMODITIES Crude oil rose on concern that fuel supplies will be inadequate because of reduced Nigerian output and the unexpected closure of refineries. Crude oil for June delivery rose 20 cents, or 0.3%, to $62.57 a barrel during late morning trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gold fell on speculation the euro's rally against the dollar will stall, reducing the appeal of the precious metal as an alternative investments. Gold futures for June delivery dropped $3.20, or 0.5%, to $669.10 an ounce on the Comex division of the NYMEX.


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