Tel Aviv stocks finished Wednesday with a negative bias on sorry financial statements published after the bell yesterday and during trade today. Bank Leumi, for one, took a beating after disclosing an 80% drop in its net profit.

But market players insist that the key influence on the market was speculators preparing the ground for the expiry of options on the Maof-25 index Thursday morning. Given the low volume of trade during the summer, it will be relatively easy to manipulate the indices, the sources pointed out.

The leading indices spent the session gradually inching down, with the Maof-25 index ending off 0.7% and the Tel Aviv-100 index losing 0.6%. The TelTech-15 index also fell by 0.6%. The total volume of trade was slim at NIS 179 million.

Bank Leumi (TASE: LUMI ) sank 1.5% on hefty turnover of almost NIS 20 million, after revealing that its net profit sank a hefty 80% due to soaring provision for doubtful debt. Leumi set aside 73% more than in the parallel quarter NIS 329 million. Earnings from financing operations sank 25% from the parallel three months to NIS 987 million. the market was not amused.

Arch-rival Bank Hapoalim (TASE: POLI ) also sagged, ending down 1% on even higher volume of NIS 21.8 million.

Migdal Insurance (TASE: MGDL ) cut a steeper morning loss and fell by 1.4% after publishing a second-quarter statement awash in bad news. Its net profit dived 90% to NIS 14.2 million, mainly because of its losses on the capital market, it said. The company has not yet made any provision the sagging value of its holdings in Bank Leumi, which investors may be taking into account.

The Bezeq (TASE: BZEQ ) phone company retreated by 1.1% after yesterday announcing that it expects lower results for the second half of 2002. Its quarterly net sank to NIS 86 million, from NIS 90 million in the parallel quarter. Revenues were down 4.1%.

Housing & Construction (TASE: HUCN) fell 2% as investors reacted to its 70% drop in net to NIS 14.3 million. In the parallel quarter it netted NIS 47.8 million. For the half-year its net contracted 63% to NIS 25.6 million.

Baran Group (TASE: BRAN ) actually gained 0.7% after revealing plunging profits and revenues, and predicting that the troubles will continue in the second half of the year.

No news to report on Teva Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq:TEVA) (TASE: TEVA) . for a change, only that it ended down 1.5% on turnover of NIS 9.5 million, after starting with an 0.6% fall on lively trade.

Agis Industries (TASE: AGIS) sustained its positive momentum, driven by its positive second-quarter statement. The drugmaker gained another 1.6% on turnover of NIS 2.9 million.

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