Israel's bull market set to keep on charging

Although Israeli shares have soared for more than a year, the consensus among market players is, not only are stocks not in a bubble but more gains are likely on the way. The reason for the optimism is the same one that brought about the current bull market - Ariel Sharon. "I am optimistic for the long-term. I think Sharon is good for the stock exchange and the market thinks he is going to win," said Leader's Alon Glazer. Optimism, however, was contingent upon continuation of the positive political, security and economic conditions that have fueled the rise over the past year. "If everything continues in the future as it has done in the past, then the markets will continue to rise. But in Israel, things can change in a quarter of an hour," said Yigal Ravillan, a foreign markets controller at Etgar Portfolio Management. Historical trends also point to a continued rise in stocks. "A survey we did showed that the stock market is usually positive before the elections and even more positive afterwards," said Clal's Avi Weinreb, who added that December was also a traditionally strong month for stocks. Against that backdrop, investors were advised to maintain their interests in equities. "It's worth staying and always with your finger on the pulse, although in a bull market, even if you just sit on the trend, it's still good," said Itzik Kaptas, a managing partner at Sigma PCM Capital Markets. "Foreign investors will stay as long as there isn't something dramatic [that happens]. I don't see any reason for a sharp drop in shares," he added. Kaptas believes the TA-25 will trade in a range as wide as 820-880 in the near future. He cautioned, however, that the bull market could turn into a bubble if the general public starts making investments against the advice of market professionals. "As long as members of the wider public don't begin to think that each is an expert and a broker, as we have seen in the past, there won't be a bubble," he said.