Discount Investments leads TA-25 higher

Discount Investment jumped NIS 5.30, or 4.3%, to NIS 129.

SHARES TEL AVIV Israeli stocks rose, led by Discount Investment Corp., the holding company controlled by billionaire Nochi Dankner. The TA-25 Index gained 23.24, or 2 percent, to 1,207.19 at the close in Tel Aviv. Investors traded about NIS 1.78 billion in shares and convertible securities. Discount Investment jumped NIS 5.30, or 4.3%, to NIS 129. Psagot Ofek Investment House Ltd. raised its recommendation on Discount to "outperform" from "market perform" after shares of Cellcom Israel Ltd., Israel's largest mobile operator and a unit of Discount, rose 9% in the past week, according to a report. Israel Discount Bank Ltd., the country's third-largest bank, rose NIS 0.35, or 3.7%, to NIS 9.75. Matthew Bronfman, the Canadian investor who controls the bank, may exercise his option to buy a 25% stake in the lender, Ha'aretz reported, without citing anyone. Alvarion Ltd. climbed NIS 1.52, or 4.2%, to NIS 37.85. The maker of broadband wireless equipment may sell products to France Telecom SA, Europe's third-biggest phone company, Globes reported, without saying where it got the information. Bridget Fishleigh, a UK-based spokeswoman for Alvarion, said the company wouldn't comment on the report. Delek Automotive Systems Ltd., the Israeli car importer of Mazda and Ford, increased NIS 2.76, or 5.2%, to NIS 56.05. "Growth in private consumption, coupled with greater consumer confidence, should eventually increase private car sales," Haim Israel, a Tel Aviv-based analyst at Merrill Lynch & Co., wrote in a report. "Looking forward, we believe that Delek Auto's new Mazda and Ford launches will place it ahead of the pack in 2008." Delek Group Ltd. rose NIS 18, or 2%, to NIS 925. The holding company with stakes in energy and real estate said it will post a NIS 24 million profit in the fourth quarter from the private share offering of its unit, Delek Real Estate Ltd., according to a statement filed to the stock exchange. El Al Israel Airlines Ltd. rose NIS 0.07, or 3%, to NIS 2.45. Israel's biggest airline and AMR Corp.'s American Airlines, the world's biggest carrier, plan to begin code-sharing in February. NetVision Ltd. , the Internet provider, jumped NIS 3.63, or 9%, to NIS 43.98. Ofer Hi-Tech, a unit of the Ofer Brothers Group, which controls Israeli industrial and commercial companies, bought a 4.% stake in NetVision. NetVision shares were also pushed higher after Israel Brokerage & Investments Ltd. recommended buying shares of the firm in new coverage. Ormat Industries Ltd. fell NIS 0.99, or 1.6%, to NIS 61. Union Bank of Israel Ltd. cut its recommendation on the maker of geothermal power plants to "underperform" from "market perform." WALL STREET Stocks rose the most in a week after increased productivity and faster-than-expected jobs growth improved prospects the economy will avoid a recession. Intel Corp. and Micron Technology Inc. climbed on a rebound in memory chip prices and a Thomas Weisel Partners report saying emerging markets will stoke demand for computers. Countrywide Financial Corp. and Washington Mutual Inc. led mortgage lenders higher on speculation the Treasury will reach an agreement to stem subprime defaults. Exxon Mobil Corp. rallied the most in two weeks on higher oil prices. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index added 14.25, or 1%, to 1,477.04 during morning trade while the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 120.31, or 0.9%, to 13,369.04 and the Nasdaq Composite Index rose 32.21, or 1.2%, to 2,652.04. EUROPE European shares ended a two-session losing streak on Wednesday, as shares in commodity firms such as oil giant BP rebounded and many economists started to pencil in an imminent rate cut for the UK. The pan-European Dow Jones Stoxx 600 index climbed 1.2% at 367.85. The UK FTSE 100 index rose 2.83% to 6,493.8, the German DAX 30 index climbed 1.74% and the French CAC-40 index advanced 2%. ASIA Stocks rose, reversing earlier declines, on speculation the US and UK will step up measures to contain subprime loan losses and support economic growth. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. led lenders higher after the Daily Telegraph reported the UK may nationalize Northern Rock Plc, which the Bank of England bailed out in September. US regulators and banks are in talks to freeze interest rates on subprime mortgages for five years, a person familiar with the negotiations said. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index added 0.4% to 162.74 in Tokyo, while Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average added 0.8% to 15,608.88. Both erased declines of as much as 0.7%. Most markets in the region rose. CURRENCY The shekel dropped as much as 0.5% to 3.8610 against the dollar, from 3.8410 Tuesday. The dollar advanced to $1.4661 per euro during morning action in New York, from $1.4758 Tuesday. The dollar increased to 110.78 yen from 109.87. The dollar rose against 12 of the 16 most-actively traded currencies after a report showed companies in the US added more jobs than forecast last month. COMMODITIES Crude oil rose more than $1 a barrel in New York after the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed to keep production targets unchanged, rejecting calls to increase output. Crude oil for January delivery rose $1.03, or 1.2%, to $89.35 a barrel during morning trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gold fell after the dollar rebounded against the euro, reducing the appeal of the precious metal as an alternative investment. Gold futures for February delivery fell $5.90, or 0.7%, to $801.70 an ounce on the Comex division of the NYMEX.