The shekel remains strong

The shekel has been the best performer among 11 emerging-market currencies in Europe, the Middle East and Africa over the past month.

By NEWS AGENCIES
February 20, 2008 09:52
3 minute read.

 
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SHARES TEL AVIV The Tel Aviv-25 Index climbed to the highest in almost a month, adding 10.74, or 1 percent, to 1,100.67 at the close in Tel Aviv as 18 members rose, five declined and two were unchanged. Investors traded about NIS 1.87 billion in shares and convertible securities. Africa Israel Investments Ltd. increased for a second day, rising NIS 9.70, or 3.9%, to NIS 259. A unit of the Israeli holding company controlled by Lev Leviev bought a 50% stake in a project being built by B. Yair Building Corp. for NIS 57.5 million. Al-Rov Israel Ltd. jumped NIS 7.10, or 7.3%, to NIS 104.30, the biggest increase in more than two months. The real-estate developer controlled by Alfred Akirov is in talks to sell a property in Tel Aviv, from which it expects to make a pretax profit of NIS 150m. Alvarion Ltd. increased to the highest in nine days, gaining NIS 0.73, or 2.6%, to NIS 28.52. The maker of mobile broadband technology said Telenor ASA, the Nordic region's biggest phone company, had signed an agreement to buy the company's WiMax-based products. Given Imaging Ltd. retreated NIS 1.83, or 3.7%, to NIS 47.17, the lowest on record. The maker of the camera-in-a-capsule that diagnoses digestive ailments said US sales of the PillCam Colon product would be delayed after the country's regulators failed to approve the device. WALL STREET Stocks advanced Tuesday as investors found some relief in a quarterly report from Wal-Mart Stores Inc. that showed a rise in sales in the United States and abroad. Investors were pleased about Wal-Mart's modest profit increase because it was a sign that consumers might not be as hesitant to spend as the market has feared. Still, the world's largest retailer said the uncertain economy will be a critical factor going forward. In midday trading, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 78.80, or 0.64%, to 12,427.01 following the three-day Presidents Day weekend. Broader stock indicators also advanced. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 8.27, or 0.61%, to 1,358.26, while the Nasdaq composite index rose 11.20, or 0.48%, to 2,333.00. EUROPE European stocks rose for a second day, led by insurers on takeover speculation and commodities producers as copper reached a four-month high. The Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index climbed 0.2% to 324.16, reversing an earlier loss of as much as 1.3%. The index has retreated 11% so far this year on concern turmoil in the financial markets will push the US into recession and drag down corporate earnings. Germany's DAX gained 0.5%, as did France's CAC 40. The UK's FTSE 100 added 0.3% to 5,966.9. The Stoxx 50 increased 0.1%, and the Euro Stoxx 50, a measure for the euro region, climbed 0.3%. ASIA Asian stocks rose, sending the region's benchmark to a two-week high, as concern eased that banks will report more subprime-related losses and after higher metals prices boosted natural-resources companies. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 1.6% to 146.17 at 7:26 p.m. in Tokyo. Nine of its 10 industry groups rose. The measure has fallen 7.4% this year on concern losses linked to US subprime mortgages will erode profit growth. All of Asia's benchmarks open for trading advanced. Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average added 0.9% to 13,757.91. CURRENCIES The shekel was little changed at 3.5999 per dollar. It climbed to a 10-year high of 3.5325 last Tuesday and has been the best performer among 11 emerging-market currencies in Europe, the Middle East and Africa over the past month. The dollar fell the most this month versus the euro on speculation the US Federal Reserve will keep cutting its benchmark interest rate, widening the US yield disadvantage with Europe. The dollar fell to $1.4731 per euro at 1:15 p.m. in New York, from $1.4658 on Monday. It was the biggest one-day decline since January 30. COMMODITIES Crude oil advanced to a six-week high above $99 a barrel in New York, and gasoline futures rose to a record, on speculation OPEC will curb production. Crude oil for March delivery rose $3.50, or 3.7%, to $99 a barrel at 1:09 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The futures reached $99.08, the highest since January 4. Prices are up 71% from a year ago. Gold futures rose the most since late November on speculation a weaker dollar and higher commodity prices will boost the appeal of the precious metal as an inflation hedge. Silver also gained. Gold futures for April delivery rose $25.90, or 2.9%, to $932 an ounce at 11:05 a.m. on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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