TA-25 declines to five-session low

Investors traded about NIS 2.04 billion in shares and convertible securities.

SHARES TEL AVIV Israeli stocks fell to their lowest in five days, led by Bank Hapoalim Ltd. and VeriFone Holdings Ltd. The TA-25 Index dropped 5.57, or 0.5 percent, to 1,183.95 at the close in Tel Aviv. Investors traded about NIS 2.04 billion in shares and convertible securities. Bank Hapoalim fell NIS 0.59, or 3.2%, to NIS 18.11. Money-market mutual funds that hold structured investment vehicles may be put on review for possible lowering of ratings by Moody's Investors Service, The Wall Street Journal wrote in its "Fund Track" column. Hapoalim said on November 8 it holds about $365 million in US SIVs. VeriFone dropped NIS 3, or 3%, to NIS 96. Credit Suisse Group lowered its recommendation on shares of the biggest maker of electronic-payment equipment to "neutral" from "outperform." VeriFone said Monday that accounting errors erased four-fifths of pre-tax profit, sparking a record 46% slide in the stock. Merrill Lynch & Co. reduced its recommendation to "neutral" from "buy." El Al Israel Airlines Ltd. dropped NIS 0.03, or 1.3%, to NIS 2.38. Deutsche Lufthansa AG applied with the Israeli civil aviation authorities to start daily flights between Tel Aviv and Munich, Ha'aretz reported, without citing anyone. El Al, Israel's largest carrier, is the only airline flying that route now. Gazit-Globe Ltd. increased NIS 0.56, or 1.2%, to NIS 48.96. The Israeli developer specializing in shopping malls and housing for the elderly said it was weighing an investment of between NIS 3.5b. and NIS 4.5b. in an unidentified real-estate project. Rabintex Industries Ltd. jumped NIS 1.43, or 6%, to NIS 25.25. Leader & Co. Ltd. initiated coverage of the maker of protective materials used by armies with a "buy" recommendation and a price estimate of NIS 40. Tower Semiconductor Ltd. rose NIS 0.09, or 1.5%, to NIS 6. The maker of custom computer chips said it started carrying out a cost-reduction plan to improve profit margins in 2008, which should result in annual savings of approximately $20m. WALL STREET U.S. stocks fell for a second day after JPMorgan Chase & Co. said deteriorating credit markets will reduce profits at the four biggest securities firms, while lower oil prices dimmed the earnings outlook for energy companies. Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch & Co. and Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. declined after JPMorgan analysts said the brokerages may write down more assets infected by subprime losses. Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp. led energy companies to their first drop in five days after crude prices fell to a six-week low. The S&P 500 lost 7.18, or 0.5%, to 1,465.24 in midday trade while the Dow Jones Industrial Average decreased 36.33, or 0.3%, to 13,278.24 and the Nasdaq Composite Index slid 11.11, or 0.4%, to 2,626.02. EUROPE Stocks declined for a second day, led by technology companies and carmakers, after Nokia Oyj said mobile-phone prices would drop and US auto sales weakened. Nokia, the world's biggest handset producer, sank the most in more than two years. Volkswagen AG, Europe's largest carmaker, and Bayerische Motoren Werke AG retreated. The Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index lost 1.5% to 363.34, bringing its two-day decline to 1.9%, as all 18 industry groups dropped except chemical makers. The Stoxx 50 decreased 1.3% and the Euro Stoxx 50, a measure for the euro region, fell 0.8%. National benchmarks declined in all 18 western European markets. The UK's FTSE 100 sank 1.1% to 6,315.2, France's CAC retreated 1.5% and Germany's DAX slid 0.4%. ASIA Stocks fell for the first time in four days on renewed concern that economic growth is slowing in the US, the region's largest export market. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index lost 0.2% to 161.93 in Tokyo, snapping a three-day, 3.6% rally. A measure of raw-materials producers had the second-biggest drop among the benchmark's 10 industry groups. Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average lost 1% to 15,480.19. About half of Asia's key stock indexes fell. CURRENCY The shekel remained unchanged against the dollar from Monday, trading at a Bank of Israel fixing of 3.8410. The yen appreciated to 109.69 per dollar in late morning trade from 110.46 Monday. The Japanese currency advanced to 161.84 per euro from 162.01. The dollar declined to $1.4754 per euro from $1.4667. The US currency dropped to a record low of $1.4967 per euro on November 23. The pound weakened to $2.0584 from $2.0659. COMMODITIES Crude-oil futures declined, as the market focus remained on whether the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries would raise production at its meeting on Wednesday. Crude for January delivery fell $1.11, or 1.2%, to $88.20 a barrel in morning action on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Monday, after falling for most of the session, crude rebounded to close up 60 cents at $89.31 a barrel. Gold futures rose sharply to trade back above $800 an ounce boosted by dollar weakness. Gold for February delivery rose $10.30 at $805 an ounce on the Comex Division of the NYMEX. On Monday, gold futures gained $5.60 to end at $794.70 an ounce.