TA-25 Index falls from record high

The TA-25 Stock Index retreated 1.1% to 992.50 in Tel Aviv, as 21 stocks declined, three gained and one was unchanged.

By NEWS AGENCIES
February 21, 2007 07:00
3 minute read.

SHARES TEL AVIV Israel's benchmark index dropped Tuesday after topping 1,000 for the first time ever a day earlier. Bank Hapoalim Ltd. and Bank Leumi Le-Israel Ltd. paced declines after Deutsche Bank AG said it sees slowing growth for lenders. The TA-25 Stock Index retreated 1.1 percent to 992.50 in Tel Aviv, as 21 stocks declined, three gained and one was unchanged. Investors bought and sold about NIS 1.73 billion in shares and convertibles. Bank Hapoalim, Israel's largest lender, fell 2.7%, to NIS 20.16. Bank Leumi, the country's second-largest lender, dropped 2.2% to NIS 15.73. While the banking environment isn't deteriorating, it is slowing in the medium-term, Michael Klahr, an analyst based in Tel Aviv, said in an report Tuesday. "Three years into this banking cycle, earnings growth, for which falling provisions had been a key driver, has naturally slowed," he said. Migdal Insurance Holdings Ltd., Israel's biggest life insurer, dropped 3.4% to NIS 6.38. The shares declined after Assicurazioni Generali SpA, Italy's biggest insurer, said it had no plans to buy more shares in Migdal, denying speculation. Paz Oil Co. fell 4.5% to NIS 396.20, its biggest one-day lost ever. The country's largest energy company, which bought a unit of Oil Refineries Ltd. in July, fell after the government sold off Oil Refineries at a valuation of $1.57b. Monday. "People were expecting a higher valuation of close to $2b.," said Daniel Rapoport, an international sales trader at Leader & Co. in Tel Aviv. "People were buying Paz ahead of the valuation and are now bumping it back." Retalix Ltd. added 1% to NIS 90.12. The maker of software for grocery chains and convenience stores will be sold by the middle of March to VeriFone Holdings Ltd. of the US, the Hebrew press reported Tuesday, without saying where it got the information. The two sides have agreed on a price, and only a small number of executives are party to the information, the report said. WALL STREET US stocks turned higher, sending the Dow Jones Industrial Average to a record high, as a big drop in crude oil prices, along with merger news and upbeat results from Wal-Mart Stores Inc., helped lift overall sentiment, offsetting disappointing earnings from Home Depot Inc. After falling by as much as 60 points earlier, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 6 points at 12,774, just off a new record high of 12,782 in midday trade. In afternoon trade in New York, the S&P 500 Index rose 0.16% to 1,457.76 and the Nasdaq Composite Index was up 0.42% to 2,506.53 EUROPE Stocks dropped from a six-year high after Danish brewer Carlsberg A/S said profit growth will slow and Verbund and Clariant AG reported earnings that missed analysts' estimates. The Stoxx 600 lost 0.3% to 380.99 in London, falling from the highest level since November 2000. The Stoxx 50 slid 0.3% and the Euro Stoxx 50, a measure for the 13 nations sharing the euro, slipped 0.4%. National benchmarks fell in 14 of the 18 western European markets. France's CAC 40 lost 0.5%. The UK FTSE 100 retreated 0.5% to 6,412.30 and Germany's DAX decreased 0.1%. ASIA Steelmaker stocks rose, led by Nippon Steel Corp. and Posco, on speculation more companies will get involved in mergers and acquisitions. The Morgan Stanley Capital International Asia-Pacific Index lost 0.2% to 146.72 in late trade Tuesday in Tokyo, after gaining 0.2%. Japan's Topix index climbed 0.2%, while the Nikkei 225 Stock Average closed little changed at 17,939.12. CURRENCIES The dollar rose against the yen early Tuesday, on growing expectations that interest rates in Japan will remain at very low levels even if the Bank of Japan decides to lift borrowing costs later this week. In early New York trading, the euro stood at $1.3143, compared with $1.3142 late Monday. The dollar was quoted at 120.20 yen, compared with 119.46 yen. The British pound traded at $1.9524, compared with $1.9497. The dollar changed hands at 1.2366 Swiss francs, compared with 1.2331 francs. The euro fetched 157.95 yen, compared with 157.01 yen. COMMODITIES Crude oil fell below $58 a barrel as warmer weather moved into the eastern US and Europe, curbing heating-fuel consumption. Crude oil for March delivery fell 2.9% to $57.70 a barrel in late Tuesday morning trade on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The March contract expired Tuesday. The more-active April contract declined 2.9% to $58.12 a barrel. Gold fell the most in two weeks in New York as a gain in the value of the dollar reduced the appeal of the precious metal. Gold futures for April delivery fell 1.7% to $661.40 an ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.


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