Tel Aviv stocks closed Sunday on a negative bias of 0.3% following the escalation in hostilities between Israelis and Palestinians over the weekend.

Israeli jets pounded targets in the Palestinian territories on Saturday after a suicide bomber killed 6 and wounded over 100 people at an attack on a shopping mall in central Netanya Friday morning. Palestinian sources say the aerial attack killed 10 people and wounded 50.

United States Vice President Dick Cheney called on Israel to halt the use of U.S.-built F-16 warplanes for attacks,

Reuters

reports. "Both sides should stop and think about where they are headed here," Cheney said. He added that it was unlikely the United States would be able to broker a face-to-face meeting between Israeli and Palestinian leaders in the near future,

Reuters

reports.

Leading indices opened after the bloody weekend with a sharp 1% drop. Toward noon, blue chips were down 1.65%. But morning losses were cut by mid-afternoon and the indices stabilized on a slim negative bias.

DBM Investment House CEO Rami Dror said the mild closing was a surprise. He surmised that speculators on the Maof-25 index lay behind the last-minute gains, based on hope that Nasdaq would continue picking up steam.

The Maof-25 index of blue chips closed off 0.19% to 428.12 points and the TA-100 index closed off 0.5% to 417.69 points. Technology stocks closed off 0.6%. Total turnover was thin at NIS 143 million.

Teva Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq:TEVA) dropped 2.2% on hefty turnover of NIS 11 million after starting on a wide negative arbitrage gap of 2.9%.

Delta Galil Industries (Nasdaq:DELT) dived 6.1%, Nice Systems (Nasdaq:NICE) lost 2.3% and Elbit Medical Imaging (Nasdaq:EMITF) closed off 3.1%.

IDB group stocks did well. IDB Development rose by 0.3%. Discount Investments added 2%, probably because of positive results for the first quarter posted by its affiliate Cellcom. IDB Holdings climbed 1%, and Clal Industries gained 1%.

Israeli businessman Eliezer Fishman last week announced that a week before he increased his stake in IDB Holdings by NIS 13 million. It is possible that in the coming period Fishman will make additional announcements about strengthening his holdings in the company.

Phone company Bezeq closed down 1% on hefty turnover of NIS 17 million after skipping 5.7% last Thursday on high turnover. Last week Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced plans to convene a committee in two weeks to discuss Bezeq's privatization.

New Applicom, a member of the Formula Systems (Nasdaq:FORTY) group, lost 6.1%. The company today announced that it will be writing off $6 million in the first quarter 2001 in respect of an investment in Net Quotient Consulting Group. The company added that its subsidiary Comsoft will be itself striking off $1.2 million in respect of an investment in Xtivia.

For the fourth quarter of 2000, New Applicom posted a record profit of NIS 6.9 million. Its profit for the year climbed to NIS 19.4 million. It doesn't look like New Applicom will be able to repeat that feat this year.

Formula Systems (Nasdaq:FORTY) finished down 3.1% after its subsidiary Mashov Computers reported weak results for the first quarter of 2001. Mashov's revenues declined to NIS 99.8 million, 4% below the parallel quarter of 2000. It reverted to a loss of NIS 19.9 million, compared with a profit of NIS 115.2 million in the first quarter of 2000. Mashov sank 6.7%, cutting an earlier loss of 10%.

Bank Hapoalim analysts suspect that tomorrow, Formula will be reporting a heavy loss of $10 million to $16 million for the quarter.

Israel Chemicals also took a beating after reporting weak results. The company ended down 2.4% after revealing a 27% drop in profit from the parallel to NIS 76 million in the first quarter this year. Sales decreased to NIS 1.8 billion, 6% below the parallel.