Israel's TA-25 Index drops, paced by Africa Israel slide

Israeli stocks declined, paced by Africa Israel Investments Ltd. after Clal Finance Batucha Investment Management Ltd. cut its recommendation on the shares.

SHARES TEL AVIV Israeli stocks declined, paced by Africa Israel Investments Ltd. after Clal Finance Batucha Investment Management Ltd. cut its recommendation on the shares. The TA-25 Index lost 4.64, or 0.4 percent to 1048.35 at the close in Tel Aviv, as 18 members fell and seven advanced.Investors bought and sold about NIS 1.83 billion ($450 million) in shares and convertibles. Africa Israel, an Israeli holding and property company, retreated NIS 6.50, or 1.4%, to NIS 453.60. ClalFinance downgraded the stock to "market perform" from "market outperform," saying investors may switch to shares in the company's AFI Development Plc unit that is being sold to the public in London. Adgar Investments & Development Ltd. added NIS 0.19, or 2.7%, NIS 7.19. Bank Hapoalim Ltd.advanced NIS 0.36, or 1.7%, NIS 21.41. Israel's largest lender may post a NIS 700 million gain from the sale of its provident fund businesses, the business daily Globes said, without citing anyone. Harel Insurance Investments & Finance Ltd. dropped NIS 5.50, or 2.5%, to NIS 218.10, the third day of declines. The country's third-largest insurer said yesterday it will put additional money into its capital markets unit to cover losses that may have occurred because of suspected embezzlement. Housing and Construction Holdings Ltd. gained NIS 0.21, or 3.3%, to NIS 6.54. The company raised NIS 820 million in a sale of bonds to institutional investors, it said in a statement to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange late on Tuesday. Nice Systems Ltd. added NIS 1.40, or 0.9%, to NIS 149.80. The maker of digital-recording products won a multimillion-dollar contract to supply ground to air and ground to ground air traffic communication systems to Skyguide, the Swiss air navigation services. WALL STREET US technology stocks fell after profit reports from IBM Corp. and Yahoo! Inc. disappointed investors, reviving concern that earnings estimates are too high and pushing the Nasdaq Composite Index lower for a second day. The Nasdaq, which gets 41% of its value from computer shares, sank 9.28, or 0.4%, to 2507.67 as of afternoon trading. Better-than-expected earnings from JPMorgan Chase & Co. lifted the Dow average 11.21, or 0.1%, to 12,784.25. The benchmark climbed as high as 12,795.63, surpassing its record close of 12,786.64 for a second day. The S&P 500 lost 0.48 to 1471. EUROPE European stocks fell for the first time in four days.The Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index dropped 0.5% to 385.88 in London, falling from its highest since October 2000. The Stoxx 50 slipped 0.4% and the Euro Stoxx 50, a measure for the 13 nations sharing the euro, lost 0.6%. The benchmark FTSE 100 Index slipped 48.4, or 0.7%, to 6449.4. The FTSE All-Share Index lost 0.7% to 3352.85. ASIA Asian stocks rose to a record. Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average added 0.8% to 17,667.33 while the benchmarks in Australia, China and South Korea all closed at new highs. Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand fell. CURRENCY The dollar traded within a cent of its record low against the euro. The U.S. currency touched the lowest against the pound in more than 25 years after minutes of the Bank of England's April 5 meeting showed two policy makers voted to raise borrowing costs. The US currency fell 0.08% to $1.3578 per euro at afternoon trading in New York, and earlier reached $1.3616, the weakest since Dec. 31, 2004. The currency set a record low of $1.3666 the previous day. The dollar also dropped 0.44% to 118.39 yen, falling from a seven-week high of 119.87 yen on April 16. COMMODITIES Gold prices rose on demand for a hedge against further declines in the dollar, which slid to a two-year low against the euro. Spot silver also climbed. The price of gold has gained 8.4% this year, while the euro gained 2.9 percent against the dollar. The US currency dropped to the lowest against the euro since December 2004. Gold for immediately delivery rose $3.50, or 0.5%, to $690.05 at 12:07 p.m. New York time. Futures for June delivery gained $1.60, or 0.2%, to $694.10 an ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. Spot prices have risen 11% in the past year. Crude oil for May delivery fell 28 cents, or 0.4%, to $62.82 a barrel at late morning trading on the NYMEX. Prices are down 12% from a year ago.