Crude touches $97 a barrel as dollar falls

Israel's main stock index rose on Tuesday, led by Bank Hapoalim Ltd. and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.

SHARES TEL AVIV Israel's main stock index rose on Tuesday, led by Bank Hapoalim Ltd. and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. The TA-25 Index added 9.54, or 0.8 percent, to 1,234.82 at the close. Investors traded about NIS 2.11 billion in shares and convertible securities. Bank Hapoalim climbed NIS 0.31, or 1.5%, to NIS 21.49. Amihai Bombach, head of research at Psagot Ofek Investment House Ltd. in Tel Aviv, raised his recommendation on the shares of the country's second-largest bank by assets to "buy" from "market perform." Teva rose NIS 1.50, or 0.9%, to NIS 176.30. The world's largest maker of generic drugs said it successfully transplanted stem cells in a patient using its experimental StemEx technology. AudioCodes Ltd. gained NIS 1.20, or 4.9%, to NIS 25.80. The company, whose technology helps place phone calls over the Internet, doubled third-quarter earnings to $2.8 million from a year ago. Africa Israel Properties Ltd. jumped NIS 15, or 7.5%, to NIS 215. Yuval Ben-Zeev, an analyst at Clal Finance Batucha Investment Management Ltd. in Tel Aviv, raised his recommendation on shares of the property company controlled by diamond billionaire Lev Leviev to "buy" from "market outperform." Delek Automotive Systems Ltd., the largest car distributor in Israel, climbed NIS 0.53, or 1.1%, to NIS 49.88. "Israel currently benefits from a unique combination of sector-specific macro trends, which should prove beneficial to Delek Automotive," Haim Israel, an analyst at Merrill Lynch & Co. Ltd. in Tel Aviv, wrote in an e-mailed report. Delek's market share rose to 24% in October, the analyst wrote. Delek Energy Systems Ltd., which explores for oil in Israel, climbed NIS 32.40, or 8.7%, to NIS 407.10. Matra Petroleum Plc, the UK oil and gas explorer that is 30%-owned by Delek, surged to a record in London trading after discovering oil at its first well in Russia. Makhteshim Agan Industries Ltd. fell NIS 0.87, or 2.3%, to NIS 36.40. The world's largest maker of generic agrochemicals had its shares cut to "neutral" from "overweight" by HSBC Holdings Plc after China National Chemical Corp. said Monday it plans to set up a competitor. Tower Semiconductor Ltd. increased NIS 0.07, or 1.1%, to NIS 6.69. The maker of custom computer chips said it posted a net third-quarter loss of $33.4m., compared with net income of $39.5m. a year earlier, as it did not repeat a one-time gain of $80m. booked last year. WALL STREET US stocks failed to maintain an early bounce as investors struggled to move their focus beyond the credit-related troubles that have been dogging financial stocks. Up more than 50 points early on, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 9.5 points during late morning trading in New York, at 13,552.90. Of the Dow's 30 components, 13 were higher, led by American International Group Inc., up 2%. Not all of the blue-chip financials followed suit, however. Embattled Citigroup Inc. saw its shares move down 2.5% amid reports that the same executive who steered its role in the rescue of collapsed hedge fund Long-Term Capital Management has been tapped to run a new dedicated subprime unit. Citi's shares were also downgraded to neutral from buy by Bank of America Securities analysts, who cited "eroding confidence in earnings and book value." The S&P 500 index advanced 1.61 points to 1,503.78, while the Nasdaq Composite shed all of its gains to fall into negative territory, dropping 6.28 points to 2,788.90. EUROPE Shares snapped a three-session losing streak on Tuesday, as investors bought back into the hard-hit resource sector and cheered earnings from Marks & Spencer and Swiss Re. The European Dow Jones Stoxx 600 index rose 0.6% to 379.81. Miners were in the lead, up 1.7% as commodity prices advanced and fears about economic prospects receded. Shares in Xstrata added 2.8% and Vedanta Resources shares advanced 2.5%. The UK's FTSE 100 index rose 0.7% at 6,508.90, the German DAX 30 index increased 0.5% and the French CAC-40 index gained 0.7%. ASIA Stocks rose for the first time in three days after Samsung Electronics Co. and LG Electronics Inc. joined a plan to create a free cellphone operating system and Goldman, Sachs & Co. upgraded Japan's consumer lenders. Samsung and LG, members of the Open Handset Alliance formed by US-based Google Inc., advanced on speculation new technology will boost handset sales. Acom Co., Japan's No. 2 consumer-finance company, gained as did shareholder Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. Ltd. almost tripled on its first day of trading in Hong Kong, making it Asia's second-biggest Internet company after Yahoo Japan Corp. The Morgan Stanley Capital International Asia Pacific Index added 0.4% to 166.24, after sliding 3.9% in the previous two sessions. A measure of financial shares that includes banks and property stocks was the biggest gainer among the benchmark's 10 industry groups. The Nikkei 225 Stock Average fell 0.12% to 16,249.63 and the broader Topix index finished little changed in Japan. CURRENCY The shekel gained to a 5 1/2-month high versus the dollar, rising as much as 0.8% to 3.9338. The dollar slipped versus all 16 most-traded currencies. The US currency dropped to an all-time low of $1.4570 per euro before trading at $1.4550 during morning trading in New York, from $1.4469 late Monday. The dollar fell to $1.0814 against its Canadian counterpart, from $1.0714 Monday, and earlier to a 26-year low of $2.0907 against the pound. The dollar traded at 114.32 yen, from 114.55. COMMODITIES Crude-oil futures rallied nearly 3% to a new all-time high, joining a broad commodities rally, boosted by expectations for a drop in crude inventories and weakness in the dollar. Crude for December delivery rallied $2.72 at $96.70 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Earlier, crude hit a new record high of $97. Gold rose to the highest since 1980 as record oil prices and a slumping dollar increased concern that inflation will accelerate. Gold futures for December delivery rose $14, or 1.7%, to $824.80 an ounce on the Comex division of the NYMEX. The price earlier climbed to $826.40, the highest for a most-active contract since January 21, 1980, the day gold reached a record $873. Gold has rallied 29% this year and is heading for the seventh straight annual gain.