The third quarter of 2002 started with mild profit-taking after substantial gains on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange last week. Stocks ended a dull Monday session with a mild negative bias on soggy turnover of NIS 165 million.

Bank stocks edged up by 0.4% after spending the morning being pounded, and tech stocks reversed again and again to wind up 0.7% down.

Retalix (Nasdaq:RTLX) climbed by 2.8% on thin turnover after reassuring investors that it will meet second-quarter forecasts. It had been up even more at mid-day.

Bank Tefahot joined the Maof-25 index today, which fact boosted it 5.6% on Sunday. Today it sagged by 2.9% on hefty turnover of NIS 7.3 million, on profit-taking.

Some of the other banks rebounded from a morning in the doghouse, with Hapoalim rising 1.2% from a morning dip of 0.7%, and Leumi ending almost unchanged - 0.1% in the red. Mizrahi gained 0.6% and Discount lost 1.1%. First International Bank (FIBI1) gained 0.6% - go figure:

Ha'aretz

reported today that the banks are quaking at the thought of impending credit downgrades by international rating companies, after First International Bank of Israel found itself cut by Fitch, and subject to a jaundiced eye from Moody's.

Credit downgrades would make it more expensive for them to get credit, which would boost credit prices for everyone else. Some sources believe the banks are already hurting from a shortage of foreign currency, which is already raising their cost of credit.

The Bezeq phone company finished up 0.4% after a morning drop on assessments by Nessuah Zannex, a Tel Aviv investment house, that the WorldCom (Nasdaq:WCOM) debacle will probably impact on the national phone company's privatization, and make it tough for Israeli communications companies to raise capital abroad in the medium term.

Teva (Nasdaq:TEVA) gained one percent on turnover of NIS 27 million. The FDA will be sending reps for a periodic inspection in a couple of weeks; Teva won't comment, just said it has excellent relations with the American watchdog.