Following a year of record trading in shares, bonds and foreign investment, the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange plans to introduce new instruments in 2006 to ease foreign trading and enhance its position in global markets. Israel's stock exchange confirmed to The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that it was working on a cross-membership agreement with Euronext NV, operator of the Paris bourse, to allow foreigners to trade Israeli shares through the GL electronic trading platform. Israel's strong political, economic and business conditions have attracted international players, whose investment in the TASE reached an all-time high of NIS 2b. in 2005. "The rising level of foreign investment is a sign of growing confidence in the Israeli market. What we experienced this year isn't a one-time sensation, but promises to mark a continuing trend in the coming year," said Professor Yair Orgler, chairman of the TASE, at the exchange's year-end conference. Average daily share volume reached a record high of NIS 1 billion in 2005, double that seen in 2000 and 50 percent more than in 2004. "The market is becoming increasingly diversified, supported by the measures of the capital market reform, including pension funds, provident and mutual funds," Orgler said. The bond market saw a record high of NIS 1.3b. daily average turnover in 2005, 40% more than in 2004. Orgler noted that the growth of non-governmental bonds, which reached a daily average of NIS 220 million in 2005 was expected to continue to grow in 2006. "The introduction of new financial products such as mortgage-based bonds, municipal bonds and real estate investment trusts, or REITs, will continue to boost trading and increase competition in the coming year," said Ronit Harel Ben Ze'ev, senior vice president of the TASE. Share issuance volume reached NIS 12.2b. this year, around the same level of 2000 and 70% above the level of 2004. Since the start of 2005, the TA-25 has rocketed 34%, fueled by foreign investors attracted by the growing economy, strong corporate results and low interest rates. In December, the benchmark index of the country's most valuable companies broke the 800 barrier for the first time. Orgler added that two foreign investment banks, which remained undisclosed, have expressed an interest in becoming members of the TASE following UBS AG, Deutsche Bank AG and, most recently, HSBC Plc.