Nasdaq to launch index of Israeli companies [pg. 15]

Nasdaq, the US stock market, will launch an Israeli stock index within the next few weeks, which will be the first ever foreign index on the market. Speaking at the CIBC World Markets conference in Tel Aviv, Charlotte Crosswell, Nasdaq International vice president for Europe, Middle East and Africa said the new index would include the 75 Israeli companies listed on the Nasdaq - the preferred market for quality Israeli technology and health care companies. Crosswell said the index, was expected to be launched towards the end of the second quarter or beginning of the third quarter. Companies on the index will be weighed on the basis of their market capitalization. Israel, with more than 70 initial public offerings, has more companies listed on Nasdaq than any country outside North America. The US market has been losing market share from foreign companies mainly due to the costs and booking practice requirements demanded by the Sarbanes Oxley Act, though much less from Israeli companies. In recent months, Nasdaq has put much effort in promoting its benefits and improving its services to foreign companies and in particular Israeli companies.