Business Briefs

IT growth expected to slow in 2007.

IT growth expected to slow in 2007 Israel's information technology sector is expected to grow 9.2 percent to $4.26 billion in 2007 after growing 15.55% in 2006, according to a report released Wednesday by the technology consulting group STKI ahead of its annual conference next week. STKI partner Jimmy Schwarzkopf noted that despite 2006's remarkable IT growth, 2007 doesn't have as great an outlook since the market seems to be dropping. The hi-tech and telecom industries continue to attract the most attention from investors and therefore are expected to grow 17% in 2007, followed by the infrastructure and transport sectors of IT, whose 2007 growth is projected at 12%. - Matthew Krieger February PMI index drops to 53.4% Industrial activity in February slipped again as the Purchases Managers Index (PMI) dropped percentage point to 53.4% after a 1.5-point drop in January research company Dun & Bradstreet Israel said Thursday. Still, PMI values above 50% reflect growth, and D&B economists said they expected productivity to continue to grow and the economy to expand throughout the next couple of months, given that the central components in the index expanded during February. The index's employment element fell by a moderate 2.6 percentage points to 55.9%, after dropping 7.8 points in the previous month. The domestic demand component of the index rose 1.7 percentage points to 53.6%. - Sharon Wrobel IDB, Clal deny plans to buy bank IDB Holding Corp., which has investments ranging from finance to mobile phones, denied a report in Ma'ariv that one of its insurance units was in talks to buy an east European bank. "No negotiations are taking place regarding any such concrete investment,: IDB said in a statement to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. Ma'ariv said the acquisition would probably be carried out through its Clal Insurance Enterprise Holdings Ltd. and would cost as much as €300 million. Clal, Israel's biggest insurer, also put out a statement of denial. - Bloomberg Work resumes at Ashdod port Work resumed at the Ashdod port Wednesday morning as a two-day strike came to an end after representatives of the Finance Ministry, Ashdod Port Authority, Manufacturer Association of Israel and Histadrut came to an agreement late Tuesday night. The workers agreed to relinquish their demands for control over outsourcing contracts, as well as their demand that the workers' committee handle all discipline problems, agreeing to handle only performance-related issues. Additionally, the workers promised to uphold the agreement they signed in 2005 in which they agreed to a period of five years of "industrial quiet." Every claim is now closed as far the management and workers are concerned. - Matthew Krieger