TA-25 Index Falls, led by Cellcom Israel, VeriFone

Israeli stocks fell for the first time in three days on Wednesday, led by Cellcom Israel Ltd, the country's largest mobile-phone company.

SHARES TEL AVIV Israeli stocks fell for the first time in three days on Wednesday, led by Cellcom Israel Ltd, the country's largest mobile-phone company. The TA-25 Index lost 5.59, or 0.5 percent, to 1,219.50 as 14 members declined and 11 rose. The index gained 31% last year. Investors traded about NIS 2.28 billion in shares and convertible securities. Cellcom fell NIS 2.40, or 1.9%, to NIS 123.90. Meitav Investment House Ltd. lowered its recommendation on the stock to "market perform'' from "market outperform," citing growing marketing costs in the industry. VeriFone Holdings Inc. fell NIS 1.99, or 2.5%, to NIS 79.01. The world's biggest maker of electronic-payment equipment said it will miss a US Securities and Exchange Commission deadline for filing restated results. Retalix Ltd. plunged NIS 9.05, or 15%, to NIS 51. The maker of software for retailers said it may report a loss for the fourth quarter because it failed to close three licensing agreements by the end of the year. WALL STREET Stocks dropped, led by banks and computer companies, after a decline in manufacturing heightened concern the economy is headed for a recession. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index lost 10.37, or 0.7%, to 1,457.99 during late morning trading in New York. The Dow average slipped 110.22, or 0.8%, to 13,154.6. The Nasdaq Composite Index decreased 19.09, or 0.7%, to 2,633.19. More than two stocks fell for every one that rose on the New York Stock Exchange. EUROPE European stocks slipped on the first day of trade in 2008, with higher oil prices and data showing a contraction in US factory activity offsetting merger-and-acquisition speculation that had lifted selected issues such as British banks. The pan-European Dow Jones Stoxx 600, which finished 2007 with a decline of less than a percentage point, dropped 1.3% to 360.11. The data dampened the mood in London as well. The UK's FTSE 100, which had gained earlier, closed down 0.6% to 6,416.70. The French CAC 40 index fell 1.1%. Germany was the laggard after a 22% gain last year, as the German DAX 30 index slipped 1.5%. ASIA Stocks fell, extending the fourth quarter's decline, after government reports in South Korea and Singapore showed the two countries' economies are slowing. The MSCI Asia Pacific excluding Japan Index lost 0.7% to 526.19 as of 6:22 p.m. in Hong Kong, its biggest decline since Dec. 17. Twice as many stocks dropped as rose on the benchmark, which extended its fourth-quarter slide of 0.9%. Japan and New Zealand were shut Wednesday. The MSCI benchmark, which was little changed Tuesday, jumped 33% in 2007, while a regional index that includes Japanese shares advanced 12%, the smallest annual gain since 2002. CURRENCIES The shekel was little changed today at 3.8530 per dollar, near the highest in more than a month The US currency fell to $1.4694 per euro during morning action in New York, from $1.4592 Tuesday. The dollar decreased to 110.20 yen from 111.64 Tuesday, touching 109.94, the lowest since December 5th. The euro fell to 161.94 yen from 162.88 Tuesday. COMMODITIES Crude-oil futures for February delivery rose $2.06, or 2.2%, to $98.04 a barrel during the morning session on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gold futures for February delivery rose $13.90, or 1.7%, to $851.90 an ounce on the Comex division of the NYMEX. The metal earlier reached $853, the highest for a most-active contract since Jan. 21, 1980, the day futures reached a record $873.