Stocks: Israel Chemicals leads TA-25 lower

Israeli stocks dropped for a second day from a record high.

By NEWS AGENCIES
November 21, 2006 08:23
4 minute read.

 
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SHARES TEL AVIV Israeli stocks dropped for a second day from a record high. Israel Chemicals Ltd. paced declines after HSBC Holdings Plc cut its recommendation on the company's shares. The Tel Aviv-25 Index fell 4.19, or 0.5 percent, to 916.10 as 18 shares retreated and eight gained. Investors bought and sold about NIS 1.35 billion in shares and convertibles. Israel Chemicals slipped NIS 0.29, or 1.2%, to NIS 24.42. Shares of the company that extracts minerals from the Dead Sea were lowered to "underweight" from "neutral." Yonah Weisz, an HSBC analyst in Tel Aviv, cited concern in a note to investors that the stock is overvalued. The company will probably say third-quarter net income declined about 42% to $84.3 million when it reports earnings Tuesday, according to the median estimate of five analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News. Shares of real-estate companies declined amid speculation they may already reflect prospects for earnings growth. Property & Building Corp. dropped NIS 18.60, or 2.8%, to NIS 637.20. Africa Israel Properties Ltd. slid NIS 4.70, or 2.5%, to NIS 187. "Israeli real estate stocks have climbed to very high levels," said Limor Gruber, an analyst with Psagot Ofek Investment House Ltd. in Tel Aviv. "Now we are seeing people cashing in." The Tel-Aviv EST-15 Index, which measures the biggest real-estate companies in Israel, climbed 19% in the past two months. Africa Israel Investments Ltd., whose investments range from property to designer bathing suits, fell NIS 5.60, or 1.8%, to NIS 305. Apax Partners Worldwide LLC, the British buyout fund, beat Africa Israel and other bidders to win an auction to buy control of the Tnuva Marketing Cooperative, the biggest Israeli food producer, with a bid valuing the cooperative at $1.025b. Blue Square-Israel Ltd., the country's second-biggest food retailer, jumped NIS 3.33, or 5.9%, to NIS 60. The company said third-quarter profit grew five-fold as sales rose and it posted a gain from selling shares in its property unit to the public. Net income for the three months ended September 30 climbed to NIS 89.1m., or NIS 2.03 a share, from NIS 17.7m., or NIS 0.45, it said. WALL STREET US stocks were lower Monday afternoon and volume was light in the the holiday-shortened week. The stock market will close on Thursday and have an early closing on Friday for the Thanksgiving holiday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 34 points, or 0.3%, to 12,308.29, while the S&P 500 dropped 2 points to 1,399 and the Nasdaq Composite Index dipped 0.3 points to 2,445. EUROPE European shares finished higher on Monday, boosted by M&A moves in the metal and exchange sectors and lower oil prices. The German DAX Xetra 30 closed up 0.62% to 6,452.33, the French CAC-40 index added 0.28% to 5,454.74 and the pan-European Dow Jones Stoxx 600 index gained 0.37% to 359.57. The UK's FTSE 100 index advanced 0.20% to 6,204.50. Shares in the London Stock Exchange rose 6% to 1,291 pence after the Nasdaq Stock Exchange offered to pay 2.7 billion to take over the exchange. The LSE rejected the offer. ASIA Japanese shares ended sharply lower Monday, with the Nikkei Average plunging to its lowest level in eight weeks, as investors dumped exporters such as Toyota Motor Corp. and financial stocks such as Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group amid a lack of positive data to spur new buying. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 Index ended the session down 365.79 points, or 2.3%, at 15,725.94. The broader Topix index fell 2.5% to 1,533. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell 1.2% to 18,954.63, the China Enterprises Index, a gauge of 37 mainland-incorporated companies listed in Hong Kong, slipped 0.4%. Shanghai's Composite Index jumped 2.3% to 2017.28, its highest closing level since July 2001 but Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 1.8%, Malaysia's KLSE Composite fell 0.7%, New Zealand's NZX-50 Index ended 0.2% lower, South Korea's Kospi fell 0.7% and Singapore's Straits Times Index shed 1.5%. Taiwan's leading share index traded flat, while Indonesia's Jakarta. Composite rose 1.6% to a fresh record. India's 30-stock Sensex ended fractionally higher. CURRENCY The dollar rose against the euro and yen Monday. In New York trading, the dollar was quoted at 118.09 yen, compared with 117.68 yen late Friday. The euro changed hands at $1.2813, compared with $1.2824. COMMODITIES Crude-oil futures came under pressure Monday morning after a siege at an oil facility in Nigeria ended and doubts that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries will decide to cut production further at its meeting next month resurfaced. In morning action, crude for January delivery was down 92 cents at $58.05 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on its first full day as a front-month contract. It traded as low as $58. Platinum futures rallied Monday, moving up as much as 6% overnight and sending the front-month contract to its highest in more than two months on concerns over possible short supplies of the metal. Platinum for January delivery was last trading up $31.90, or 2.7%, at $1,224 an ounce on the NYMEX. Platinum's sister metal, palladium rose $3.05 to change hands at $321 an ounce, after tapping $324.75. Gold for December delivery was up $1.80 at $624.30 an ounce, extending gains from Friday after suffering a loss of more than 2% for last week. December silver futures added 8 cents to $12.88 an ounce.

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