TA-25 rises, ends 2007 with 31% gain

The TA-25 Index snapped three days of declines, led by Kardan NV.

SHARES TEL AVIV The TA-25 Index snapped three days of declines, led by Kardan NV. The benchmark advanced for a fifth year. The TA-25 Index added 1.17, or 0.1 percent, to 1,217.07 at the close in Tel Aviv. The measure gained 31% this year. Investors traded about NIS 1.69 billion in shares and convertible securities. Kardan increased NIS 2.43, or 3.9%, to NIS 64.45. The Dutch-Israeli company, with holdings in real estate and financial services, said it would post a €30 million profit from the sale of an 11% stake in its unit Kardan Financial Services NV to Israel Discount Bank. Israel Chemicals, which extracts minerals from the Dead Sea to make fertilizers and chemicals, fell NIS 1.03, or 2.1%, to NIS 49.01. The stock had the second-biggest gain among TA-25 members in 2007, gaining 88%. Elran Real Estate climbed NIS 0.30, or 1.9%, to NIS 15.80. The Tel Aviv-based property company agreed to sell a stake in Atlas Estates for €19.7m. to the British Virgin Island-based Livermore Investments Group. Gazit-Globe rose NIS 0.71, or 1.7%, to NIS 42. The property developer raised NIS 863m. by selling bonds. Makhteshim Agan Industries advanced NIS 0.34, or 1%, to NIS 35.33. The world's largest maker of generic agrochemicals was picked yesterday by Citigroup Inc. as one of 10 "must own" stocks in emerging markets. WALL STREET Stocks fell, paring the fifth straight annual advance, as lower commodity prices dragged down oil and mining shares. Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc., the world's second-largest copper producer, declined after metals prices fell. General Electric Co., the country's second-biggest company by market value, and Citigroup Inc., the largest US bank, slipped. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index slipped 6.79, or 0.5%, to 1,471.7 during morning trading in New York. The Dow Jones Industrial Average retreated 48.78, or 0.4%, to 13,317.09. The Nasdaq Composite Index lost 16.04, or 0.6%, to 2,658.42. EUROPE The FTSE 100 Index dropped, led by Rio Tinto Group, Anglo American Plc and BHP Billiton as copper prices fell, cutting the benchmark's advance for the year to 3.8%, its worst performance since 2002. The FTSE 100 lost 20 points, or 0.3%, to 6,456.9. Most European markets were closed on Monday. ASIA Stocks rose, helping a key index cap its fifth year of gains, amid speculation the US Federal Reserve will cut rates next year to boost growth in the world's largest economy. Sun Hung Kai Properties led Hong Kong developers higher as some investors bet the city's borrowing costs will decline with reductions in the US. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. advanced amid expectation that US demand will pick up. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 0.9% to 157.63 as of 5:42 p.m. in Hong Kong, taking its climb this year to 12%. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index added 1.6%, the most among Asian markets open for trading Monday. Markets in Japan, China, South Korea, the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand were shut. Pakistan stocks slumped after the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto caused rioting in the country over the weekend. Newcrest Mining led gold producers higher as the price of the metal traded at the highest in almost 28 years. CURRENCIES The shekel fell against the dollar, declining to a Bank of Israel fixing of 3.846. The dollar rose against the euro, paring a second consecutive annual decline, after an industry report showed sales of previously owned homes unexpectedly increased last month. The US currency appreciated the most in more than two weeks against the euro and in a week against the pound as investors reduced bets the dollar will extend its decline. The dollar weakened against 14 of the 16 most active currencies this year as the Federal Reserve reduced borrowing costs three times to temper the worst housing slump in 16 years. The dollar increased 0.9% to $1.4594 per euro during the morning session in New York, the biggest advance since December 14. It has lost 10% this year, reaching $1.4967 on November 23, the weakest since the euro began trading in 1999. The US currency fell to 111.96 yen from 112.28 on December 28, touching 111.50, the lowest since December 13. The dollar has weakened 6% against the yen this year. The euro dropped to 163.41 yen from 165.42, weakening 4% this year for an eighth straight annual loss. COMMODITIES Crude oil fell in New York as the US dollar strengthened on a report that home sales unexpectedly increased last month. Crude oil for February delivery fell 75 cents, or 0.%, to $95.25 a barrel during late-morning action on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices have risen 56% from a year ago. Oil is heading for its biggest annual gain in five years. Gold futures fell on Monday for the first time in six trading sessions as the dollar rose against a basket of other major currencies, reducing values of the precious metal as an investment alternative. Gold futures for February delivery dropped $7.9, or 0.9%, to $835 an ounce on the NYMEX.