TA stocks set new record led by Teva

Israel's benchmark stock index closed at a record high for the seventh time this year, led by Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. after the company forecast higher earnings.

stock market 88 (photo credit: )
stock market 88
(photo credit: )
SHARES TEL AVIV Israel's benchmark stock index closed at a record high for the seventh time this year, led by Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. after the company forecast higher earnings. Shares of Israel Discount Bank Ltd. also climbed after UBS AG recommended investors buy its shares. The TA-25 Index added 1.6 percent to 981.64 as 16 stocks advanced and nine declined. Investors bought and sold about NIS 2.15 billion in shares and convertibles, 21% more than the average daily trading volume in January. Teva jumped 5.7% to NIS 155.70, its biggest gain since February 28, 2005. The world's largest generic-drug maker said earnings per share will reach $2.50 in 2008, up from $2.07 to $2.19 this year. Fourth-quarter profit rose 51% to $460 million, or 56 cents a share, on US sales of cholesterol and depression treatments and income from its new Ivax unit, Teva said. Israel Discount Bank, the nation's third-largest lender, climbed 5.6% to NIS 9.55, the highest level since January 1. UBS initiated coverage of the stock with a "buy" recommendation. Discount "offers investors a compelling way to play a strong retail franchise focused on customer service," Joseph Wolf, an analyst at UBS in Herzliya, wrote in a report Tuesday. Wolf estimates that Discount shares will reach NIS 12 within 12 months. Africa Israel Investments Ltd., Israel's largest property developer by market value, dropped for a third day, losing 1.1% to NIS 350. Shares of property developers have declined since Toll Brothers Inc., the largest US builder of luxury homes, said last week that orders had plunged and London-based HSBC Holdings Plc said bad home loans had increased in the US. Africa Israel, together with partners, is developing eight residential projects in New York City. Bank Leumi Le-Israel Ltd., the country's second-largest lender, advanced 3.2% to NIS 17.61, the biggest gain since October. Cerberus-Gabriel, a partnership of two New York buyout funds that own 10% of Leumi, will win approval from the Bank of Israel to control the lender, the Hebrew press reported, without citing anyone. A spokeswoman for the bank declined to confirm or deny the report. FMS Enterprises Migun Ltd. surged 17% to NIS 153.10. The maker of material to armor vehicles said it won an order to supply raw materials to Honeywell International Inc., the world's largest maker of airplane controls. Israel Chemicals Ltd., which extracts minerals form the Dead Sea to make fertilizers, gained 2.4% to NIS 24.73. Israel Corp., a holding company that controls ICL, rose 1.9% to NIS 2,113. Don Carson and Steve Byrne, New York-based analysts at Merrill Lynch & Co., raised earnings estimates for companies including Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan, the world's largest fertilizer producer, and Mosaic Co., the No. 2 in North America. WALL STREET US stocks climbed, snapping a three-day decline, as takeover speculation boosted mining shares, while General Motors Corp. jumped on an analyst upgrade. The Dow Jones Industrial's average rose 0.6% to 12,630.98 at late morning trade in New York. The S&P 500 added 0.6% to 1,441.36, with all 10 of its industry groups posting gains. The Nasdaq Composite Index increased 0.3% to 2,457.09. ASIA Japanese shares rose, driving the Nikkei 225 Stock Average to a six-year high. The Nikkei rose 0.7% to 17,621.45 in Tokyo, the highest close since May 10, 2000. The broader Topix index added 0.6% to 1,755.90, its best finish since May 11. EUROPE UK stocks rose, boosted by a rally in mining companies after industrial metals climbed in London. The benchmark FTSE 100 Index added 0.45% to 6,381.80 in London. The FTSE All-Share Index increased 0.2% to 3,299.82. CURRENCIES The dollar fell against major currencies Tuesday after a government report showed the US trade gap widened more than expected in December. The trade gap widened by 5.3% in December to $61.2b., the US Commerce Department said Tuesday. In New York trading, the euro stood at $1.3014, compared with $1.2961 late Monday. The dollar was quoted at 121.32 yen, compared with 121.94 yen. The British pound traded at $1.9425, compared with $1.9474. The euro fetched 157.94 yen, compared with 158.05 yen. COMMODITIES Crude oil rose after the International Energy Agency increased its forecast for global oil consumption this year. World demand is expected to rise 1.8% to 86 million barrels a day, the IEA, an adviser to 26 industrialized nations, said Tuesday. That's 270,000 barrels a day more than it predicted one month ago. Crude oil for March delivery rose 1.5% to $58.65 a barrel in morning trade on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices are 4.1% lower than a year ago. Brent crude oil for March settlement rose 0.4% to $56.83 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures exchange. Gold rebounded in New York as a decline in the value of the dollar against the euro boosted the appeal of the precious metal. Gold futures for April delivery rose 0.7% to $671.80 an ounce in morning trade on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. (News Agencies)