Tel Aviv stocks jump for second day

Delek Group, the holding company with stakes in energy and real estate, climbed to the highest in seven days, gaining 3.8%.

SHARES TEL AVIV The Tel Aviv-25 Index gained for a second day, adding 0.70, or less than 0.1 percent, to 1,028.08 at the close in Tel Aviv, as 11 members gained and 14 retreated. Investors traded about NIS 1.25 billion in shares and convertible securities. Tel Aviv Stock Exchange trading ended at 2:15 p.m. instead of 5:30 p.m. because of a labor union dispute. Delek Group, the holding company with stakes in energy and real estate, climbed to the highest in seven days, gaining 3.8%. Elbit Systems added 3.9% to its highest in eight days. Israel's biggest nongovernmental defense company won its first contract to supply drones to the French Special Forces. Israel Chemicals, which extracts minerals from the Dead Sea to make fertilizers and chemicals, climbed 1.5%. WALL STREET Wall Street extended its big advance Monday as investors applauded a new agreement that will give Bear Stearns Cos. shareholders five times the payout than was outlined in a JPMorgan Chase & Co. buyout deal a week ago. Investors were also pleased by a stronger-than-expected housing report and sent the Dow Jones industrial average up about 225 points. Stocks rose after JPMorgan said the company would boost its offer to $10 per share from $2. The revised plan is aimed at soothing Bear Stearns shareholders upset over JPMorgan's earlier offer, which was made at the behest of the Federal Reserve when Bear Stearns was near collapse. Bear Stearns shares more than doubled, jumping $6.81 to $12.77, while JPMorgan rose $1.12, or 2.4%, to $47.09. Beyond the troubles of the financials, Wall Street was examining the housing sector - the root of much of investors' current angst. A real estate trade group said sales of existing homes rose rather than declined in February, as had been expected. In midday trading, the Dow rose 226.24, or 1.83%, to 12,587.56 after rising more than 260 points on Thursday, the last day of trading before the Easter weekend. Broader stock indicators also rose. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 24.22, or 1.82%, to 1,353.73, and the Nasdaq Composite Index rose 63.96, or 2.83%, to 2,322.07. The Russell 2000 Index of smaller companies rose 20.79, or 3.05%, to 702.21. EUROPE Most markets were closed for the Easter holiday. ASIA Asian markets were mixed Monday, with trade again slowed by exchanges shut for Easter holidays. Japanese stocks were virtually flat as trading volume fell to its lowest level this year. Stocks in Taiwan surged as investors expected the election of Ma Ying-jeou as president to bring greater economic engagement with China. Share on the Chinese mainland, though, fell sharply because of lingering worries over the potential impact of the US mortgage crisis and last month's severe winter storms. Confidence that China's markets can bounce back after a prolonged correction is waning, analysts said. The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index shed just 0.02% to 12,480.1; Taiwan's Weighted Price Index jumped 4% to 8,865.4; and the Shanghai Composite Index fell 4.5% to 3,626.19, its lowest close since July 5. Financial markets were closed in Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand for Easter. CURRENCIES The shekel fell the most since July 13, 2006, when the Second Lebanon War started, retreating as much as 2.9% to 3.5447 and last traded at 3.5180, from 3.4450 on Friday. It has gained 9.1% versus the dollar since December 1, making it the best performer among 11 emerging-market currencies in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The shekel climbed to an 11-year high of 3.3531 per dollar on March 13. The dollar was little changed at $1.5416 against the euro, compared with $1.5431 on March 21. The dollar posted its first weekly gain against the euro in a month after the Fed on March 18 cut the target lending rate by 0.75 of a percentage point to 2.25% and said signs "of inflation expectations have risen." (News agencies) COMMODITIES Oil futures fluctuated amid a lack of solid news to drive prices higher or lower. Light, sweet crude for May delivery rose 26 cents to $102.10 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. However, trading gyrated between gains and losses. Gold futures climbed more than $5 before pulling back slightly. Gold for April delivery dropped 10 cents to $919.90 on the Nymex. The metal closed at $920 an ounce on Thursday, its lowest level since February 15.