Bank Hapoalim leads bank stocks lower

Without a doubt, Bank Hapoalim was yesterday's focus stock - attracting 20% of the overall market volume, while developments at TEVA and Israel Chemicals also attracted interest.

September 27, 2006 11:49
3 minute read.


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Shares TEL AVIV Without a doubt, Bank Hapoalim was yesterday's focus stock - attracting 20 percent of the overall market volume, while developments at TEVA and Israel Chemicals also attracted interest. The TA-25 index closed up 0.02% at 821.16. Turnover, at $294 million, was higher than of late. Hapoalim, Tuesday's most active stock with a NIS 272m. turnover, closed down 1.4% after trading as much as 2.7% lower on heavy selling in the mid-afternoon hours. The sell-off in Hapoalim was likely carried out by foreign investors who anticipate a NIS 30m. share placement in Hapoalim shares, once the Arison-US controlling-stake shareholder deal closes. Other bank stocks were also dragged lower on negative sector sentiment. Leumi and Mizrahi both lost 1.2%. Banks were probably due for a pullback after the TA Banks index rose 3.8% in the last seven sessions. Israel Chemicals fell 0.3% but traded as much as 0.7% higher earlier in the session after the company announced signing a three-year potash supply contract with China and a nine-month contract with India. The market failed to react significantly to the announcement, as Israel Chemicals will negotiate prices for these contracts at the beginning of each year and sales to these countries are already built into expectations. Teva rose 1.3% on a day it hosted its first ever Innovative R&D conference in New York. Teva is seeking to present itself as more than just a generic drug company, at a time when rising competition continues to squeeze generic margins. WALL STREET US stocks rose for a second straight day after consumer confidence rebounded more than forecast, suggesting that household spending will sustain economic growth. "Consumers are out there spending money," said Scott Wren, senior equity strategist at A.G. Edwards & Sons Inc. "We're slowing down to a more sustainable pace of growth with not a lot of inflation, and that's good for the market." The Standard & Poor's 500 Index added 0.4%, to 1,331.88 during mid-morning trading in New York, extending its advance to new five-year highs. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 0.5% to 11,636.81. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 0.3%, to 2,256.18. Improved confidence and a still-strong labor market may help bolster spending, which accounts for about two-thirds of the economy, even as the housing market falters. EUROPE European stocks rose for the first time in three days on speculation the US economy will avoid a slump. National benchmarks rose in all 18 western European markets. France's CAC 40 added 1.4%. Germany's DAX rose 1% and the UK's FTSE 100 Index increased 1.3% to 5,873.60. The Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index added 1.4% to 339.51 in London, the highest close since May 11. The Stoxx 50 and Euro Stoxx 50 both advanced 1.3%. The euro snapped a three-day rally as a report showed the annual inflation rate in Germany dropped to its lowest in more than a year. ASIA Asian stocks dropped to a two-week low, led by Toyota Motor Corp. and Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., after oil rebounded from a six-month low. The Morgan Stanley Capital International Asia-Pacific Index lost 0.4% to 125.89 at 7 p.m. in Tokyo. A measure of energy stocks, including Woodside Petroleum and Inpex Holdings, was the only industry group that gained. Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average lost 0.5% to 15,557.45 as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe prepared to name a new cabinet. CURRENCY The dollar advanced to $1.2683 per euro during late-morning trading in New York, its biggest gain since September 7. It climbed to 117.03 yen. The U.S. currency is still down 6.5% this year versus the euro. Europe's currency has dropped about 1% this month against the dollar as reports showed slower inflation and a plunge in investor confidence in Germany, diminishing expectations for two more European Central Bank rate boosts this year. COMMODITIES Crude oil rose, rebounding from a six-month low earlier in the day, after OPEC said its members had discussed falling prices since the group's September 11 meeting. "Every time we get near $60 a barrel, there is concern OPEC will cut production," said Phil Flynn, a commodities trader for Chicago-based Alaron Trading. "OPEC is going to try and defend $60 a barrel, if they can." The 11-member group, which produces approximately 40% of the world's oil, agreed to leave its collective production level unchanged at 28 million barrels a day. Crude oil for November delivery rose 1.5% to $61.45 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gold rose to $595.90 an ounce. Silver increased to $11.325 an ounce, while Platinum dropped to $1,133.20 an ounce. (News agencies)

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