TA-25 declines, paced by Africa Israel

The TA-25 Index lost 10.11, or 0.9 percent, to 1,067.50. Investors traded about NIS 1.52 billion of shares and convertibles.

SHARES TEL AVIV Israel's TA-25 Index fell on Wednesday, paced by Africa Israel Investments Ltd. and Makhteshim Agan Industries Ltd. The TA-25 Index lost 10.11, or 0.9 percent, to 1,067.50. Investors traded about NIS 1.52 billion of shares and convertibles. Israeli equities declined as European stocks snapped a five-day winning streak on concern the increase in borrowing costs caused by the collapse of US subprime mortgages will hurt banks' earnings. Africa Israel, the holding company controlled by diamond billionaire Lev Leviev, dropped NIS 11.70, or 3.3%, to NIS 344.70. Makhteshim Agan, the world's largest maker of generic agrochemicals, fell NIS 0.35, or 1.1%, to NIS 31.15. BluePhoenix Solutions Ltd. rose NIS 1.84, or 2.8%, to NIS 68.10. The provider of service and software to upgrade aging computer systems won a $2.5 million contract to modernize financial systems for an unnamed European bank. Ceragon Networks Ltd. climbed NIS 0.71, or 1%, to NIS 72.19. The maker of wireless broadband networks plans to raise $100m. in a share sale on the Nasdaq stock market, Haaretz said. Delek Automotive Systems Ltd. dropped NIS 1.59, or 3.4%, to NIS 45.10. Police on Tuesday questioned Gil Agmon, the chief executive of the car importer and Yoram Mizrahi, deputy head of its Delek Motors Ltd. unit, about building permits. Hot-Cable Systems Media Ltd. gained NIS 1.12, or 2.7%, to NIS 43.13. Clal Finance Batucha Investment Management Ltd. raised its price estimate on shares of Israel's cable-television monopoly to NIS 44 from NIS 34. WALL STREET US stocks fell for the first time in three days after pending home sales tumbled and concerns resurfaced around the world that credit market losses will force central banks to shore up the financial system. Citigroup Inc., the biggest US bank, and JPMorgan Chase & Co., the third biggest, led financial shares lower. Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and Morgan Stanley declined after Citi Investment Research said the securities firms' earnings will be reduced because investors are taking fewer risks. Mattel Inc., the largest toymaker, dropped following its third recall of China-made products in five weeks. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index lost 17.80, or 1.2%, to 1,471.62 as of morning trading in New York. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 149.65, or 1.1%, to 13,299.21 and the Nasdaq Composite Index decreased 20.77, or 0.8%, to 2,609.47. A private report said the number of Americans signing contracts to buy previously owned homes in July dropped by the most since records began in 2001. A separate report showed declining sales of commercial properties. Stocks opened lower after the rate banks charge each other for three-month loans in dollars rose to the highest in almost seven years. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development trimmed its 2007 forecast for US economic growth to 1.9% from a 2.1% estimate in May. Economists polled by Bloomberg in the first week of August expected 2%. Mattel declined 86 cents to $21.11. The toymaker said it found about 848,000 Chinese-made Barbie and Fisher-Price products with paint that may contain excessive levels of lead. Costco Wholesale Corp., the warehouse retailer, fell $3.16, or 5.1%, to $58.45 after reporting its August same-store sales rose a weaker-than-expected 2% largely due to strong international sales. Same-store sales, or sales at stores open at least a year, are a widely followed indicator of retail health. EUROPE Stocks snapped a five-day winning streak on concern that the increase in borrowing costs caused by the collapse of US subprime mortgages will hurt banks' earnings. The Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index lost 1.7% to 372.94 at the close in London. All 18 industry groups fell. National benchmarks dropped in all 18 Western European markets except Norway. Germany's DAX Index lost 1.7%, France's CAC 40 retreated 2.1% and the UK's FTSE 100 decreased 1.6% to 6,270.70. The Stoxx 50 slipped 1.6%, while the Euro Stoxx 50, a measure for the euro region, sank 2%. ASIA Stocks dropped for a second day after comments by a senior Japanese government official reignited concern losses from US subprime mortgages will spread. Mizuho Financial Group Inc., Japan's second-biggest bank, fell the most in more than two weeks after the country's chief financial regulator said he will monitor credit market losses at the nation's lenders. Mitsubishi Estate Co. led property shares lower after the chairman of Japan's No. 2 homebuilder said a real-estate "bubble" may burst. The Hang Seng Index closed above 24,000 for the first time, paced by Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd. after the Hong Kong government said home sales increased last month. Hynix Semiconductor Inc. advanced on an industry report that said global chip sales rose. The Morgan Stanley Capital International Asia-Pacific Index slipped 0.6% to 150.91 at 7:54 p.m. in Tokyo, following a 0.4% slide yesterday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average dropped 1.6% to 16,158.54. Markets also fell in Australia, South Korea, Taiwan, India, Indonesia and Vietnam. CURRENCY The shekel fell against the dollar to a Bank of Israel fixing of 4.1170 at 7 p.m. from 4.1370 Tuesday. The yen rose to 115.33 against the dollar during morning action in New York, from 116.33 Tuesday. It also climbed to 157.42 per euro from 158.26. The euro gained 0.3% to $1.3650. COMMODITIES Crude oil futures barely budged, struggling to hold their ground above the $75 level after reaching a one-month high on Tuesday. Crude for October delivery edged up by 8 cents to $75.16 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gold fell the most in a week on speculation that a decline in global equity markets will reduce investment demand for the precious metal. Gold futures for December delivery fell $2.60, or 0.4%, to $688.90 an ounce during morning trading on the Comex division of the NYMEX. (News Agencies)