Africa Israel paces TA-25 gains with Moscow project score

The Tel Aviv-25 Index rose, led by Africa Israel Investments, after the real estate and holding company received approval for a $930 million project in Moscow.

SHARES TEL AVIV The Tel Aviv-25 Index rose, led by Africa Israel Investments, after the real estate and holding company received approval for a $930 million project in Moscow. The TA-25 added 0.6 percent to 924.68. Twenty-one stocks advanced and five declined. Investors bought and sold approximately NIS 1.3 billion in shares and convertibles. Africa Israel climbed 1.4% to NIS 296.20. The company received preliminary permission from regulators for its plan to build a development in central Moscow that includes offices, apartments, a luxury hotel and a shopping mall, the Yehud-based company said. Direct Insurance Financial Investments, an insurer that sells policies by telephone, surged 6.9% to NIS 19.82. Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Group, Britain's second-largest non-life insurer, will form a joint venture with the company to tap markets in Poland, the Czech Republic and Russia, the London-based company said Monday. The First International Bank of Israel, the country's fifth-largest lender, rose 2.3% to NIS 54.55. The bank agreed to outsource computer services operations to Electronic Data Systems Corp. in a NIS 637m. contract, after resolving a dispute over the original deal. The eight-year contract will save First International an average of NIS 17m. a year in expenses. WALL STREET US stocks slipped after a decline in the dollar for a fifth day underscored concern that growth in the world's largest economy is faltering. "The weakening dollar can show a potential lack of confidence among foreign investors in the US economy," said Chuck Carlson, who oversees $110m. at Horizon Investment Services in Hammond, Indiana. An advance in oil prices also deepened concern higher energy costs will leave US consumers with less to spend as the holiday shopping season gets under way. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index fell 0.7% to 1,391.61 during morning trade in New York. The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 0.8% to 12,185. The Nasdaq Composite Index lost 1.2% to 2,431.14. EUROPE European stocks dropped for a fourth day, led by DaimlerChrysler and Hanson, after the dollar's retreat against the euro and pound raised concern exporters' profits may fall. The Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index slid 1.1% to a five-week low of 352.04 in afternoon trade in London. The Stoxx 50 dropped 1%, while the Euro Stoxx 50, a measure for the 12 nations sharing the euro, decreased 1.2%. National benchmarks retreated in all of 18 western European markets today, except for Luxembourg. Germany's DAX Index lost 1.4%, the UK's FTSE 100 Index slipped 1.1% to 6,053.70 and France's CAC 40 fell 1%. ASIA Asian stocks advanced to a three-week high as the biggest takeover attempt in Taiwan raised speculation mergers in the region will increase. The Morgan Stanley Capital International Asia-Pacific Index added 0.4% to 133.09 in late afternoon trade in Tokyo. Taiwan's Taiex index climbed for a 10th straight day, closing at its highest in more than six years. Benchmarks in India, Indonesia and Singapore rose to records. Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average gained 1% to 15,885.38. Key indexes also advanced in South Korea, Singapore, China, Malaysia and Thailand. CURRENCIES The euro climbed to the highest level since March 2005 against the dollar and reached a record against the yen on speculation interest rates in Europe will rise faster than in the US and Japan. The euro has risen almost 11% this year, to $1.3119 in late morning trade in New York. The currency, which debuted in January 1999, advanced to a record of 152.49 yen before trading at 152.33. The dollar increased to 116.10 yen from 115.90. In a span of three days last week, the euro closed above $1.29 for the first time since June, then above $1.30 for the first time since April 2005. COMMODITIES ENERGY Crude oil rose above $60 a barrel in New York on forecasts that most of the US will be colder than normal next week and a report that Saudi Arabia's oil minister said OPEC may cut output at a meeting next month. Crude oil for January delivery rose 1% to $59.81 a barrel in late morning trade on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Futures climbed as high as $60.20 during the session. GOLD Gold in New York rose to an 11-week high after a decline in the value of the dollar against the euro boosted the metal's appeal as an alternative investment. Gold, sold in dollars, generally moves in the opposite direction of the US currency, which Monday fell to the lowest against the euro since March 2005. Gold is up 24% this year, while the dollar has fallen 9.7% against the euro. Gold futures for December delivery rose 1.4% to $644.50 an ounce in Monday morning trade on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. (News agencies)