TA-25 edges higher; oil rises above $93 a barrel

Israel's TA-25 Index rose on Monday, reversing earlier losses, as Prime Minister Olmert said he will stay in office after announcing he had cancer.

SHARES TEL AVIV Israel's TA-25 Index rose on Monday, reversing earlier losses, as Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he will stay in office after announcing he had cancer. "The market is back up where it started," said Avi Weinreb, a trader at Clal Finance Batucha Investment Management Ltd. in Tel Aviv. "It seems that Olmert will continue to be fine and I don't see this affecting the market." The TA-25 Index added 3.31, or 0.3 percent, to 1,231.63 after dropping as much as 0.4%. Investors traded about NIS 2.44 billion in shares and convertible securities. Olmert called a surprise news conference to announce he has prostate cancer. The condition doesn't represent an immediate health threat, one of Olmert's doctors, Shlomo Segev of the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv, said at the conference. Israel Chemicals Ltd. increased NIS 1.20, or 2.8%, to NIS 43.80. The company, which extracts minerals from the Dead Sea to make fertilizers, signed two contracts to supply potash at a record price of $400 a ton to Vietnam, according to Haim Israel, an analyst at Merrill Lynch & Co. "These record prices increase our confidence that the potash price projections in our model are too conservative and could mark a new industry benchmark," Israel said. Africa Israel Hotels Ltd., which operates a chain of hotels in Israel, jumped NIS 0.74, or 13%, to NIS 6.44. Africa Israel Investments Ltd. is offering to buy the shares it doesn't already control in its Africa Israel Hotels unit for NIS 6.01 a share. BioLineRx Ltd. climbed NIS 0.21, or 4.1%, to NIS 5.24. The drug development company said it had positive interim results from the second phase of a trial for BL-1020, a anti-psychotic treatment for schizophrenia. Israel Corp., the holding company controlled by the billionaire Ofer family, gained NIS 58, or 1.5%, to NIS 4,050. Shai Agassi, the former top software architect at SAP AG, said he raised $200 million to build a global network of stations for charging electric vehicles. Investors in Agassi's Project Better Place include Israel Corp. Radvision Ltd. gained NIS 1.20, or 2.3%, to NIS 53.05. The maker of videoconferencing systems said it will develop a new video telephony application for mobile devices with Clique Communications Inc., a provider of video communication solutions. Tower Semiconductor Ltd. climbed NIS 0.15, or 2.2%, to NIS 6.78. The maker of custom computer chips said it will produce a new power management platform. WALL STREET US stocks rose for a second day after higher prices for oil and metals boosted the earnings outlook for producers of energy and raw materials, the two industries that have led the market's advance this year. Exxon Mobil Corp., the largest energy company, gained after crude rallied to as much as $93.20 a barrel. Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. climbed after the price of gold reached the highest since 1980. Humana Inc., the second-biggest US provider of medical benefits to seniors, jumped to an all-time high on earnings that topped analysts' estimates. The Standard & Poor's Index added 4.26, or 0.3%, to 1,539.54 during late morning trading while the Dow Jones Industrial Average increased 42.75, or 0.3%, to 13,849.45 and the Nasdaq Composite Index gained 9.59, or 0.3%, to 2,813.78. EUROPE European stocks climbed for a third day, led by mining and energy companies, after metal prices rallied and oil rose to a record. BHP Billiton Ltd., the world's largest mining company, and Total SA, Europe's biggest oil refiner, advanced. Volkswagen AG led carmakers higher after Goldman, Sachs & Co. lifted its price estimate for the stock. Clarins SA and Actelion Ltd. gained after analysts raised their recommendations on the shares. The Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index added 0.7% to 386.60, the Stoxx 50 rose 0.8% and the Euro Stoxx 50, a measure for the euro region, increased 0.7%. National benchmarks rose in all 18 western European markets except Iceland. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 added 0.7% to o 6,706, France's CAC 40 also rose 0.7% and Germany's DAX increased 0.8%. ASIA Asian stocks rose, driving benchmarks in Hong Kong, India, South Korea and Malaysia to records, after Nissan Motor Co. reported profit that exceeded analysts' estimates and oil surpassed $93 a barrel for the first time. Nissan surged the most in more than seven years and Cnooc Ltd., China's biggest offshore oil producer, rose to a high. The Morgan Stanley Capital International Asia-Pacific Index gained 2.4% in Tokyo, with all 10 of its industry groups advancing. Benchmarks in 12 countries rose. Japan's Nikkei 225 jumped 1.2% to 16,698.08 while the broader Topix index climbed 2.1%, the most in a month. CURRENCY The shekel was at 3.979 to the dollar in late trading after the Bank of Israel left interest rates unchanged. The dollar erased its losses against the euro after bumping to a new record low earlier and was higher against the yen. The euro was trading at $1.4388, down slightly from $1.4390 while the dollar was buying 114.70 yen, compared to 114.16 yen late Friday. COMMODITIES Crude oil climbed above $93 a barrel in New York for the first time after Mexico shut a fifth of its production. State-owned Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, halted about 600,000 barrels a day of output as a storm passed through the Gulf of Mexico, spokesman Carlos Ramirez said in Mexico City. Crude oil for December delivery rose 52 cents, or 0.6%, to $92.38 a barrel during morning action on the New York Mercantile Exchange after earlier climbing to $93.20, the highest since trading began in 1983. Oil is up 52% from a year ago. Gold approached the key $800 an ounce on Monday, as the dollar continued to fall amid expectations that the Federal Reserve will again cut interest rates on Wednesday. Gold for December delivery was up $4.30, or 0.6%, at $791.80 an ounce on the Comex division of the NYMEX.