Tel Aviv stocks are widening 1% opening losses to 1.5% Sunday afternoon. The negative mood is attributed to a series of negative factors including Friday's suicide bombing in Jerusalem, in which six people were killed and 86 injured.
Credit ratings agency Standard & Poor's said on Thursday it cut its outlook for Israel to negative from stable as Israeli-Palestinian fighting and an ongoing recession keep the pressure on the nation's economy.
S&P said the reduction to negative, which raises the likelihood of a credit rating downgrade, came in spite of an improved outlook for the global economy.
Investors are waiting for the holiday to pass, and for peace to come, one market player said. The stock exchange will be closed on Tuesday, Memorial Day, and Wednesday, Independence Day, and the shorter week isn't helping either. The player added that investors are waiting to see the results of today's meeting of U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
Israeli forces have been conducting counter-terror operations in the West Bank for some 18 days.
The Maof-25 blue chip index is down 1.5% to 386.8 points, and the TA-100 index is off 1% to 375.3 points. Technology shares are stable. Total turnover is a low NIS 65 million.
Magal Security Systems (Nasdaq:MAGS) is leaping 16.1%, after earlier hitting a 20% gain. Magal opened on huge positive spread, 21.6%. The Nasdaq leap was generated by estimates that a security fence could be built between Israel and Palestinian territory after Powell's visit.
Tedea Technological Development & Automation is soaring 63.7% on irregular volume, NIS 4.5 million. Tedea, whose market cap is $10 million, announced that it has signed an agreement to sell its Dutch subsidiary Tedea Huntleigh to American firm Vishay Transducers for $27 million. Tedea said that after the completion of the deal it will distribute NIS 170 million dividends, NIS 14 per share, which comes to 170% gross yield per share.
Drug-giant Teva Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq:TEVA) is up 1.5% on the session's biggest turnover, NIS 16 million. On Thursday, Teva closed up 2% on NIS 27.6 million turnover. Teva received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for Fenofibrate capsules, 134 mg and 200 mg, and gave tentative approval for the 67 mg. Teva has been granted 180-day marketing exclusivity. The drug is the generic equivalent of Tricor capsules made by Abbott (NYSE:ABT), used for treating patients with very high triglyceride, blood fatty acids.
CFO Dan Suesskind two weeks ago estimated sales of the original drug in 2001 at $235 million.
Cellular provider Partner Communications (Nasdaq, TASE:PTNR, LSE:PCCD) is down 1.9% on NIS 1.3 million volume. Partner closed with sharp gains of 4.9% on Thursday. The gains relate to Matav Cable Systems (Nasdaq:MATV) saying it will sell 7.6% of Partner for $60 to $70 million. The sale also resolves the Dankner family's cross ownership in Partner and Bank Hapoalim, Partner's biggest creditor, and saves Partner early repayment of $96 million debt to Bank Hapoalim.
First International Bank of Israel is off 2.2%. Investment bank Gmul Sahar reiterated its Hold rating, setting NIS 23.2 as price target, 3% above the market.
IDB Holding Corporation is off 1.6%, IDB Development Corporation is down 1.2%. Discount Investments is dropping 2.9%, and Clal Industries is off 3.2%.