Shekel gains lift TA-25 to a record

Israeli stocks climbed, sending the country's benchmark index to a record after the shekel rose the most against the dollar in a year.

SHARES TEL AVIV Israeli stocks climbed, sending the country's benchmark index to a record after the shekel rose the most against the dollar in a year. Bank Hapoalim Ltd. and Bank Leumi Le-Israel Ltd., the nation's largest banks, paced gains. The TA-25 Index added 16.63, or 1.5 percent, to 1,138 at the close in Tel Aviv as 22 shares rose, two declined and one was unchanged. Investors bought and sold NIS 2 billion in shares and convertibles. "The decline of the dollar against the shekel pushed the benchmark higher today," David Kababia, a trader at Israel Discount Bank Ltd., said by telephone. The shekel advanced as much as 1.4% against the dollar to 4.1711 after the Finance Ministry on Monday reported a NIS 5.6b. surplus for the first six months of the year. Israel's currency also rose on the weakness of the US dollar, which traded near a record low versus the euro and the weakest in 26 years against the U.K. pound. Bank Hapoalim rose NIS 0.36, or 1.7%, to NIS 21.06. Bank Leumi climbed NIS 0.24, or 1.4%, to NIS 17.27. Alvarion Ltd. added NIS 0.97, or 2.4%, to NIS 41.56. The maker of equipment for the wireless broadband technology said it won a contract from an Australian Internet service provider to deploy its wireless broadband WiMax system in Queensland. Elbit Systems Ltd. gained NIS 2.70, or 1.5%, to NIS 183.10. The maker of military technology products won a four-year, $80 million contract to supply an unidentified Asian country with tactical computers and other command and control systems. Israel Chemicals Ltd., which extracts minerals from the Dead Sea to make fertilizers, gained NIS 0.70, or 2.1%, to NIS 34.24. Mosaic Co., the world's largest producer of phosphates and a competitor of Israel Chemicals, advanced 2% to $39.78 Monday in New York after Merrill Lynch & Co. added the stock to its US 1 focus list. Ormat Industries Ltd. climbed NIS 1.02, or 2%, to NIS 51.22. The US unit of the builder and operator of geothermal power plants, Ormat Technologies Inc., signed a 20-year power purchase agreement with Southern California Edison, a US electricity company, the company said late Monday. Packer Plada Ltd., a maker of steel pipes, jumped NIS 35.60, or 7.5%, to NIS 507.60. The Kfar Saba-based company bought a Russian producer of construction materials, Packer said in a statement to the stock exchange. Property & Building Ltd. advanced NIS 21.70, or 2.8%, to NIS 792.80. The stock of the real-estate developer was rated "market outperform" and assigned a price estimate of NIS 890 in new coverage at Leader & Co. The company's shares are trading at a "significant discount" of 17 percent relative to the underlying value of its real estate holdings in Israel and abroad, Alon Glazer, an analyst at Leader wrote in a report. WALL STREET US stocks gained for a second day after factory orders fell less than forecast and Kraft Foods Inc.'s $7.2b. takeover bid for a unit of Groupe Danone SA fanned speculation mergers will extend this year's rally. Mergers and acquisitions carried the Standard & Poor's 500 Index to a record June 4 before the highest interest rates in five years helped push the benchmark down 1.3%. A government report Tuesday showing factory orders fell by less than half the rate economists forecast reinforced expectations that manufacturing will fan economic growth. In the final hour of trading, the S&P 500 added 3.02, or 0.2%, to 1,522.45 while the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 26.83, or 0.2%, to 13,562.26 and the Nasdaq Composite Index increased 7.58, or 0.3%, to 2,639.88. US stock markets ended trading early on Tuesday and will be closed Wednesday for the Independence Day holiday. EUROPE European stocks gained after brokerages became more bullish on the region and Kraft's bid for Danone's biscuit unit fanned takeover speculation. Deutsche Bank AG, Germany's biggest bank, said the Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index will reach a record high by the end of this year as earnings growth and takeovers continue to support shares. The Stoxx 600 added 0.9% to 395.71 in London as all 18 industry groups rose, the Stoxx 50 increased 0.9% and the Euro Stoxx 50, a measure for the euro region, gained 1%. National benchmarks rose in all of the 18 western European markets except Portugal. The UK's FTSE 100 gained 0.8% to 6,639.80 and Germany's DAX added 1.2% while France's CAC 40 advanced 0.7%. ASIA Asian stocks rose, lifting a regional benchmark to a record, on signs of increasing demand for exports, metals and crude oil. Honda Motor Co. and Samsung Electronics Co. led gains after reports showed the pace of manufacturing in the US and Europe is accelerating. The Morgan Stanley Capital International Asia-Pacific Index added 0.6% to 155.54 at 7:09 p.m. in Tokyo, extending a three-day, 2.4% rally. Indexes in Hong Kong, India, Indonesia and the Philippines also rose to records, while Thailand's SET Index climbed 2.6% to the highest in more than a decade. Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average was little changed up 0.02% at 18,149.90 while the broader Topix index added 0.1%. China Vanke Co. paced China's CSI 300 Index higher for the first time in four days, ending the measure's longest losing streak in six months. CURRENCY The shekel rose to a Bank of Israel fixing of 4.1920 against the dollar at the close and was trading at 4.1780 by 6:30 p.m. in Tel Aviv. The euro was little changed, after earlier reaching an all-time high versus the yen, on speculation recent gains already reflect expectations the European Central Bank will raise interest rates this year. The 13-nation currency also retreated from its two-month high against the dollar as investors cut risks before the US Independence Day holiday and the ECB's interest-rate meeting. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg News forecast policy makers will hold borrowing costs at 4% on July 5. The euro traded at 166.65 yen at 12:01 p.m. in New York, down from 167.18 earlier, the highest since the 13-nation currency's inception in 1999. The euro traded at $1.3615 from $1.3623 Monday. The euro touched $1.3638 Monday, the strongest since May 1. It rose to an all-time high of $1.3681 on April 27. The dollar traded little changed at 122.40 yen. The pound traded at $2.0165. COMMODITIES Crude oil for August delivery was down 9 cents at $71 a barrel in afternoon action on the New York Mercantile Exchange. August gold futures were down $3.70 at $655.50 an ounce on the Comex division of the NYMEX.