Stocks: Israeli stocks take slight decline

The TA-25 Index dropped less than 0.1%, to 953.81, as 10 stocks declined and 15 gained. Investors bought and sold about NIS 1.37 billion in shares and convertibles.

SHARES TEL AVIV Israeli stocks were little changed. Africa Israel Investments Ltd. paced falling shares after the chairman of the company said an estimate that would double the company's future value reflected the "personal" view of its chairman The TA-25 Index dropped less than 0.1 percent, to 953.81, as 10 stocks declined and 15 gained. Investors bought and sold about NIS 1.37 billion in shares and convertibles. Africa Israel, a real estate developer, lost 1.2% to NIS 334.50. Lev Leviev told the Hebrew press in an interview Sunday that the company will nearly double its value to $7b. by the end of the year. Leviev, responding to a question from the newspaper about the company's future valuation, said it was "under study," the Yehud-based company said Monday. Elbit Medical Systems Ltd., a property developer, added 2.7% to NIS 165.30. Shares of Elbit will probably trade at NIS 190 in the next 12 months, up from a previous estimate of NIS 165, Yuval Ben-Zeev, an analyst at Clal Finance Batucha Investment Management Ltd., wrote in a report. The stock was also rated "buy" and had its price estimate set at NIS 193 in new coverage at Psagot Ofek Investment House Ltd. Kardan NV increased 1.3% to NIS 56.25. The Dutch-Israeli company with stakes in real estate and financial services said its unit, Tahal Consulting Engineers Ltd., won an infrastructure turnkey project in Turkey, a contract valued at €54.2 million. Radvision Corp. added 1.4% to NIS 85.99. The maker of communications equipment released a new version of an interactive video platform. Radware Ltd. plunged 12% to NIS 55.30, the biggest drop since April 2. The company, whose technology helps make Internet networks run more efficiently, reported fourth-quarter earnings of 5 cents a share excluding one-time items, compared with a consensus estimate of 8 cents a share. Strauss-Elite Ltd. fell 2.2% to NIS 45.34. The Israeli food company whose products include coffee and confectionery said it would change its name to Strauss in order to create a clear and focused identity for its brand locally and overseas. The shares jumped 3.7% Sunday after the company said it would hold a press conference on a strategic change in the group. "[Sunday's] rise was for bigger expectations than just a corporate logo change," Clal wrote in a report to investors. WALL STREET US stocks rose for the first time in three days as a pickup in acquisitions suggested companies are still undervalued after a four-year bull market. The S&P 500 added 0.2% to 1,424.55 in afternoon trade, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.3% to 12,523.71 and the Nasdaq Composite Index increased 0.4% to 2445.58. EUROPE European stocks rose for the first time in three days. The Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index added 0.3% to 373.33, the Stoxx 50 rose 0.2% and the Euro Stoxx 50, a measure for the 13 nations sharing the euro, gained 0.4%. The UK's FTSE 100 added 0.2% to 6,239.90 and France's CAC 40 gained 0.7% while Germany's DAX advanced 0.5%. ASIA Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average added 0.3% to close 17,470.46, while the broader Topix index rose 0.3%. China's Shanghai and Shenzhen 300 Index surged 2.6% to a record close. CURRENCIES The dollar rose to a more than four-year high against the yen after a Japanese government report showed sluggish consumer spending, dampening hopes interest rates in the world's second-largest economy would be lifted anytime soon. In New York trading. The dollar was quoted at 121.95 yen, compared with 121.55 yen, after rising to 122.18 yen, the highest level since December 2002. The euro stood at $1.2952, compared with $1.2915 late Friday. COMMODITIES Crude oil fell on speculation that US fuel inventories are adequate to meet increased heating demand during the next two weeks. Crude oil for March delivery fell 1.6% to $54.56 a barrel in afternoon trade on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gold fell for a third straight session in New York. Gold futures for April delivery fell 0.2% to $649.10 an ounce on the Comex division of the NYMEX.