The shekel opened today's currency trading stronger at NIS 4.777 against the dollar. Nonetheless, the gain was curbed slightly in the past few minutes and the dollar is now trading at NIS 4.779, 0.4% below Friday's representative exchange rate of NIS 4.799. Turnover is average.

Investment bank Excellence estimates this morning that the dollar will trade at NIS 4.76 ¿ 4.81 for the next few days. It should be noted that the trading week is truncated by Memorial and Independence Day holidays.

Excellence adds that the dollar weakness in local trade comes against he backdrop of U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's talks with leaders in the region as well as Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's declaration of willingness to convene an international conference for the region with representatives of the Arab states and the Palestinians (without Arafat). On the other hand, continued conflict between Israel and European Union members could weaken the shekel against the dollar.

The basket of currencies and the euro are also trading weaker this morning against the shekel. The basket is now trading at NIS 4.8254, down 0.35% from its representative exchange rate. The euro is losing ground at a similar pace and trading at NIS 4.2127.