TA-25 Index declines, led by Strauss Group

Israeli stocks dropped from a record on Wednesday, led by Strauss Group Ltd. as shares of the nation's biggest food company fell the most in more than five weeks after a press report that a shareholder will sell her stake.

June 7, 2007 08:42
3 minute read.

SHARES TEL AVIV Israeli stocks dropped from a record on Wednesday, led by Strauss Group Ltd. as shares of the nation's biggest food company fell the most in more than five weeks after a press report that a shareholder will sell her stake. The TA-25 Index lost 11.41, or 1 percent, to 1,122.44 at the close in Tel Aviv, as 19 shares fell and six climbed. Investors bought and sold about NIS 1.91 billion in shares and convertibles Wednesday. Strauss retreated NIS 1.25, or 2.5%, to NIS 49.31, the biggest drop since April 29 after it was written that Raya Strauss, one of the shareholders in the family-owned company, will sell her 12.5% stake in the group for $160 million, Yediot Aharonot reported, without citing anyone. A spokeswoman for the company wasn't immediately available for a comment. Africa Israel Investments Ltd., a holding company and property developer, dropped NIS 14.10, or 3.1%, to NIS 446.90. Global depositary receipts of AFI Development Plc, Africa Israel's real-estate unit that raised $1.4b. selling shares last month, dropped as much as 3.5% to $11.20 Wednesday. The GDRs have lost 20% since their initial offering on May 3. Elbit Medical Systems Ltd. jumped NIS 6.40, or 3.5%, to NIS 188.40. The medical-electronics company turned property developer said its InSightec Ltd. unit received European approval for its ExAblate 2000 system used to relieve pain from bone metastases, or cancers that have spread from the primary tumor to the bone. Gazit-Globe Ltd., a property developer in Israel and abroad, lost NIS 1.38, or 2.4%, to NIS 57.28. Shares of Equity One Inc., a US real-estate investment trust 51%-owned by Gazit-Globe, retreated 2.3% in New York Tuesday. Equity One fell 1.3% to $27.61 during late morning trading in New York on Wednesday. Perrigo Co., a maker of over-the-counter medicines with store brand labels, advanced NIS 0.77, or 1%, to NIS 81.88. A US court invalidated a patent held by Johnson & Johnson's McNeil unit and its partner Merck & Co. for antacid Pepcid Complete, opening the door for Perrigo to sell its generic version. XTL Biopharmaceuticals Ltd. plunged NIS 0.23, or 16%, to NIS 1.18. The company developing treatments for neuropathic pain will suspend development of its hepatitis C drug XTL-2125 after it failed to meet the main goal of a study. WALL STREET US stocks fell sharply Wednesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average losing over 100 points, as news that unit labor costs jumped in the first quarter fueled concerns over inflation, interest rates and rising bond yields, further sapping enthusiasm in the market. "We've had a rough couple of days, with bond yields approaching 5%," said Jay Suskind, director of trading at Ryan, Beck & Co. "This market has been strong, so it's an excuse to take money off the table, but this move is clearly interest-rate driven." The Dow Jones industrials were down 1% at 13,466.24, the S&P 500 index fell 10.4 points to 1,520, while the Nasdaq Composite lost 21 points to 2,590. EUROPE European stocks posted the biggest decline in more than two months on expectations the European Central Bank will keep raising interest rates. The Stoxx 600 lost 1.7% to 390.07, the biggest decline since March 14. The index last dropped three days in a row during the final week of March. The Stoxx 50 slid 1.4%, while the Euro Stoxx 50, a measure for the 13 nations sharing the euro, sank 1.7%. National benchmarks fell in all of the 17 Western European markets that were open. The UK's FTSE 100 declined 1.6% to 6,522.70, France's CAC 40 slipped 1.5% and Germany's DAX tumbled 2.4%. ASIA Asian stocks rose, led by Mitsubishi Corp. and BHP Billiton Ltd., companies that may report higher earnings as commodity prices climb. The Morgan Stanley Capital International Asia-Pacific Index climbed 0.2% to 153.18 at 7:27 p.m. in Tokyo. Japan's Topix Index added 0.1% while the Nikkei 225 Stock Average dropped 0.1% to 18,040.93. CURRENCY The shekel fell to a Bank of Israel fixing of 4.0980 per dollar, from 4.0657 on Tuesday. The currency was trading at 4.1142 at 6:04 p.m. in Tel Aviv. In New York early afternoon trading, the euro was at $1.3504, compared with $1.3521 late Tuesday. The dollar was quoted at 121.12 yen, compared with 121.33 yen, after dropping to 120.85 yen, the lowest level since May 25. COMMODITIES Crude oil for July delivery rose 42 cents, or 0.6%, to $66.03 a barrel during late morning trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Gold for August delivery fell $4.60 to $670.50 an ounce on the Comex Division of NYMEX.

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