Global stock markets recovered slightly on Wednesday raising hopes that Tuesday's global slump, which saw US stock indices post their steepest drop since after the September 11, 2001, terrorism attacks, might be no more than a blip on the radar.
"I don't think that we are at the beginning of a bear market like the one we experienced in 2002, but what happened on Tuesday could be the beginning of corrections in global markets," said Yaron Pitaro, general manager of investments at Prisma. "There is no hysteria or panic in the market but there is a sentiment of nervousness and volatile trading after years of steady gains and thus every change in economic data, in particular from the US market could shock markets again."
On Wednesday, China's main stock index rebounded 4 percent, after the latest shock in the global equities market started in that country when the strong-performing Shanghai stock market suffered its biggest one-day fall in a decade, plunging 9%.
"A number of events fueled the slump in global markets on Tuesday including Alan Greenspan's comments about an upcoming recession in the US economy, a worsening of the US housing market and the big sell-offs on the Chinese market," said Neil Corney, senior director at Citigroup Israel. "If by the end of the week, the US market will see a recovery this would just be a blip."
Even if Tuesday's meltdown were to portend extended weakness ahead, some strategists believe local markets may prove resilient, with Leader Capital Markets' Daniel Rapoport calling Israel "a defensive play" after Tuesday's sharp losses.
"With world markets on the slide, we note that Israel's low beta to [Europe, Middle East and Africa] and strong economic and corporate fundamentals are key factors for support. The market will trade on [the] global trend but with lower volatility."
Tel Aviv stocks on Wednesday pared their losses after a volatile day in the shadow of continued global turbulence. The benchmark TA-25 index fell 0.42% to 971.60, and the TA-100 also declined 0.42%, to finish at 970.72.
"The declines on the global markets will only have a temporary impact on the local market and only on Israeli and foreign investors, who over the past years invested in emerging and the Asian markets," said Zalman Shoval, president of the Israel-America Chambers of Commerce and one of the founders of the Bank of Jerusalem.
Analysts and strategists were in consensus that strong macroeconomic data in the local economy, strengthened further by news of a 10-year low in the unemployment rate in the fourth quarter of 2006 and low interest rates, would give much support for the local market to continue to attract investors despite the impact of global stock market trends.
"Investors consider Israel to be somewhere between an emerging and a developing market and only changes in local macroeconomic data would have a detrimental impact on the local market," said Prisma's Pitaro.