For the first time in the history of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, Israel Chemicals Ltd., a producer of fertilizer and chemicals from the Dead Sea, was the most traded stock in the first half of the year, with an average daily trading volume of NIS 284 million. Bank Hapoalim had been No. 1. "Initially vibrant trading took place against the background of a freeze of potassium prices to Russia farmers and continued against a background of sharp declines recorded in agricultural commodities prices during the recent period," Bank Leumi said in a recent report to investors. Last week, analysts at ING Wholesale Banking recommended buying shares in the world's third-largest potash producer by market value after Israel Chemicals' shares lost more than a quarter of their value over the past two months. According to TASE data of stock performances in the first six months of the year, to be published in the TASE bulletin this week, Israel Chemicals' average daily trading volume jumped 160 percent in comparison to 2007; it was more than double that of Bank Hapoalim, which was the second-most traded stock with an average trading volume of NIS 127m. In the first quarter of the year, average trading volume in Israel Chemicals stock reached a high of NIS 350m., up from an average trading volume of NIS 165m. in the last quarter of 2007. After eight years in second place, Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd. was No. 5 with an average daily trading volume of NIS 102m. in the first half of the year, down 9% from 2007. "The trading volume in Israel Chemicals and its parent company, Israel Corporation, is particularly impressive in view of the fact that the public owns just 38% of Israel Chemicals and 27% of Israel Corp. In contrast, the public owns 90% of Teva and 75% of Bank Hapoalim and Bank Leumi," said Yuval Zuk of the TASE Research Department. Average daily trading volume on the TASE rose 5% from 2007, and 53% from the levels reached in 2006, to NIS 1.7 billion during the first half of 2008.