TA-25 edges higher led by gains in Africa Israel

The TA-25 Index closed little changed on Monday. Africa Israel Investments, the country's largest property developer by market value, led rising shares.

SHARES TEL AVIV The TA-25 Index closed little changed on Monday. Africa Israel Investments, the country's largest property developer by market value, led rising shares. Bank Hapoalim, the largest lender, paced declining stocks. The TA-25 added 0.42, or less than 0.1 percent, to 996.88 as 14 stocks rose, 10 declined and one was unchanged. Investors bought and sold approximately NIS 1.79 billion in shares and convertibles. Africa Israel advanced NIS 5.90, or 1.6%, to NIS 379.20. Should it go ahead with plans to sell shares of its Russian joint venture on the London Stock Exchange, it may attract buyers at a price of 30% to 50% higher that the unit's net asset value, UBS AG analysts wrote in a research note Monday. Hapoalim slid NIS 0.28, or 1.4%, to NIS 19.85. The lender may abandon plans to acquire an unidentified Russian bank because of political risk, Globes reported. "As part of the bank's policy to expand its global operations, it often checks investment possibilities abroad," a Hapoalim spokeswoman said. "The bank has provided information on transactions it was contemplating, yet none of them are closed deals that can be reported to the public." Elbit Medical Systems, a medical company turned property developer, added NIS 4.70, or 2.8%, to NIS 172.20. Plaza Centers NV, a developer of malls controlled by Elbit Medical, bought stakes in two projects in India that will probably involve investment totaling $265 million. Electra Real Estate rose NIS 1.83, or 2.6%, to NIS 72.94. A unit of the property developer sold one of its assets in Hartford, Connecticut, for $41.3m., the Tel Aviv-based company said in a statement to the stock exchange. WALL STREET US stocks rose for the first time in four days on speculation the pace of mergers and acquisitions will accelerate after TXU Corp., the largest power producer in Texas, accepted the biggest-ever leveraged buyout. TXU led utilities to their steepest advance in four years after the company agreed to a $45b. offer from Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. and Texas Pacific Group. The S&P 500 added 4.90, or 0.3%, to 1,456.09 in early morning trade while the Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 16.99, or 0.1%, to 12,664.47 and the Nasdaq Composite Index increased 4.09, or 0.2%, to 2,519.19. Stocks slipped last week, pushing the Dow to its worst weekly decline since August, after a government report showed consumer prices rose more than expected, reducing the chances of an interest rate cut. Concern that higher rates and weaker home prices will foster mortgage defaults also helped drag the Dow down from a record. EUROPE European stocks rose for a third day. The Stoxx 600 rose 0.4% to 381.91 at 3:34 p.m. in London. The Stoxx 50 added 0.3% and the Euro Stoxx 50, a measure for the 13 nations sharing the euro, gained 0.5%. National benchmarks rose in 14 of 18 Western European markets. France's CAC 40 added 0.8%, the UK's FTSE climbed 0.5% to 6,433.00 and Germany's DAX rose 0.5%. ASIA Asian stocks climbed to a record for a third day, led by commodity-related companies after prices of metals and oil rose. The Morgan Stanley Capital International Asia-Pacific Index rose 0.1% to 148.22 at 5:08 p.m. in Tokyo, heading for a record close. Six of the measure's 10 industry groups advanced, with materials gaining the most. Japan's Topix climbed 0.1%, its the longest winning streak since December, while the Nikkei 225 Stock Average gained 0.2% to 18,215.35. CURRENCIES The euro stood at $1.3169, compared to $1.3164 late Friday, in New York trading. The dollar was quoted at 120.61 yen, compared with 121.03 yen. COMMODITIES Crude oil for April delivery rose 47 cents, or 0.8%, to $61.61 a barrel in early morning trade on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gold in New York rose, extending a rally to a nine-month high, as climbing oil prices boosted the appeal of the metal as a hedge against inflation. Gold futures for April delivery rose $2.50 to $689.20 an ounce on the Comex division of the NYMEX.