Stocks up 0.5% Monday afternoon, banks gaining ground - TheStreet

The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange is up 0.5% this afternoon on NIS 110 million turnover, after slipping yesterday 0.5%.

The Maof-25 blue chip index is now up 0.5% to 388.4 points and the TA-100 is up 0.4% to 378.2 points. Technology shares are gaining 0.3%.

Dealers report that today's trade is overshadowed by financial reports coming in and is being conducted in waiting for Bank of Israel governor David Klein's decision on June interest rates.

Bank Leumi is up 4.5% on NIS 30 million turnover in response to the good financials the bank published this morning. Net profit fell 25% in Q1 to NIS 219 million. Provision for doubtful debt was NIS 353 million, down 48% from the provision in the previous quarter. The results are far better than analysts had projected.

Bank Leumi, which dropped yesterday to NIS 6, its lowest price in the past three years, is also benefiting from the decision to postpone the options allocation that had been slated for the end of this month. Bank Hapoalim is rising the pro-bank wave with a 1.5% gain ahead of its financials, slated for Thursday.

Mizrahi Bank is up 1.1% despite the publication yesterday of an embezzlement scandal at the bank¿s Bnei Brak branch. Investment manager David Roth is suspected of transferring about NIS 28 million from the accounts of ten customers to the accounts of 236 other customers, who had lost money on investment advice from the bank.

Koor is down 2.4% on top of yesterday's 2.7% slide on turnover of NIS 2.2 million. The company announced yesterday that it will post a loss of NIS 383 million due to the transfer of currency conversion differences on Tadiran¿s financials from its own shareholders equity item to the surplus item in it balance sheet. The company called the move a technical accounting change.

Teva is down 0.8% on NIS 17 million turnover. The company gained 1.8% yesterday to close some of its arbitrage spread after a U.S. court approved Teva's joint request with other generic drug makers to annul the patent and Glaxo Smith Klein's antibiotic Augmentin.

Teva has won two other recent court cases on the Augmentin patent and expects FDA approval soon to market its generic versions of the product. Investment bank Merrill Lynch yesterday estimated that the Augmentin products could contribute $100 million to Teva¿s 2003 bottom line.

The rest of the dual-listed crowd is trading mixed with Formula (Nasdaq: FORTY) and Matav (Nasdaq: MATV) up 3.9% and 2% respectively. Delta (Nasdaq: DELT) and Alvarion (Nasdaq: ALVR) are down 1.8% and 2.1% respectively.

The stock exchange halted trade in insurance companies Phoenix and Hadar until the companies publish clarifications concerning a TheMarker report that Hadar shareholders yesterday decided to oppose the companies' merger.