Another landmark on TASE as TA-25 tops 1,000

Stocks rose Monday, topping with the benchmark index 1,000 for the first time. Israel Corp. led the advance.

SHARES TEL AVIV Stocks rose Monday, topping with the benchmark index 1,000 for the first time. Israel Corp. led the advance. The TA-25 Stock Index climbed 1.3 percent to 1,003.69 in Tel Aviv, as 24 stocks climbed and one declined. Investors bought and sold about NIS 1.4 billion in shares and convertibles. Israel Corp., which has interests in chemicals and shipping, rose 1.9% to NIS 2,273. The government completed the sale on Monday of state-owned Oil Refineries Ltd., the country's biggest petroleum facility. Israel Corp. and Israel Petrochemical Enterprises Ltd., a maker of compounds used in plastics, are seeking to buy the refinery. The two companies announced Sunday they would form a joint venture to bid for the shares together. Israel Petrochemical shares added 1.2% to NIS 46.74. Kardan NV added 4.7% to NIS 61.21. The Dutch-Israeli holding company said it will sell more than $100 million worth of bonds to fund expansion. Migdal Insurance Holdings Ltd., Israel's biggest life insurer, gained 4%, to NIS 6.60. The shares rose on speculation that Assicurazioni Generali SpA, Italy's biggest insurer, may increase its controlling stake, Clal Finance Batucha Investment Management Ltd. wrote in a note to investors. Osem Investments Ltd. rose 2.2% to NIS 37.17. The Israeli food company controlled by Nestle SA said its board approved payment of a NIS 100m. dividend, equal to NIS 0.904 a share. Retalix Ltd. added 4.8% to NIS 89.25. The maker of software for grocery chains was raised to a "buy" from "neutral" at UBS AG, which cited plans by Tesco Plc, a leading customer, to expand into the US. The move may force rivals to upgrade to Retalix software, Joseph Wolf, a Herzliya-based analyst, wrote in a report. Strauss Group Ltd. advanced 1.3% to NIS 46.72. The maker of coffee, confectioneries and other foods plans to raise NIS 1b. in a bond sale after postponing an equity offering overseas. The Ramat Gan-based company, which changed its name last week from Strauss-Elite Ltd., will use half the amount raised to repay bank debt and the other half to finance unspecified new investments. WALL STREET US markets were closed Monday for the Presidents' Day holiday. EUROPE Stocks climbed for the first time in three days as takeover speculation buoyed shares of European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co., DaimlerChrysler AG and J Sainsbury Plc. The Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index rose 0.4% to 382.19 in London, the highest since November 2000. The Stoxx 50 climbed 0.3% and the Euro Stoxx 50, a measure for the 13 nations sharing the euro, added 0.4%. National benchmarks gained in all of the 17 western European markets that were open. France's CAC 40 rose 0.5% while Germany's DAX rose 0.4%. The UK's FTSE 100 gained 0.39% to 6,444.40. ASIA Asian stocks advanced to a record, led by Japanese retailers and steelmakers, on speculation takeovers will increase in both industries. The Morgan Stanley Capital International Asia-Pacific Index gained 0.2% to 147.13 in late trade in Tokyo. Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average added 0.4% to 17,940.09, while the broader Topix index rose 0.3%. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index climbed 0.6% after touching an intraday high. Measures also rose in Indonesia, India and Pakistan, while they fell in New Zealand, Thailand, the Philippines and Sri Lanka. Markets were closed for the Lunar New Year holiday in China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan. CURRENCIES The dollar held broadly flat against its major rivals Monday as traders looked ahead to a Bank of Japan interest-rate decision later in the week and with financial markets in the US and several Asian countries closed for holidays. The greenback advanced 0.1% against the Japanese currency, changing hands at 119.53 yen. Against the euro, the dollar was unchanged, with one euro worth $1.3138 in mid-morning European trading. COMMODITIES Crude oil fell on speculation US fuel inventories are sufficient to meet heating demand in the world's largest energy market as the end of winter approaches. Crude oil for March delivery fell as much as 1.7% to $58.40 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange and was at $58.45 in late Monday morning trade in New York. The contract expires Tuesday. The more active April contract dropped 75 cents to $59.11. Brent oil for April settlement declined 82 cents to $58.13 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London. Gold rose to a seven-month high in London on speculation the dollar will weaken and demand for the precious metal will increase. Gold for immediate delivery gained 0.3% to $670.85 an ounce in Monday afternoon trade in London. Gold futures for April delivery rose $1.70 to $674.50 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.