Tel Aviv stocks are rising 0.5% at the opening of the Thursday session after the expiry of the options on the Maof-25 index for December. Turnover was NIS 544 million.

The index for the purposes of the options closed up 0.7% at 451.53, and is currently trading up 0.5%. The TA-100 index is rising 0.6% and technology shares are gaining 1.5%.

Migdal insurance company is climbing 2.8% on NIS 20 million turnover. Today Ha'aretz reported that the Supervisor of Banks Dr. Yitzhak Tal did not approve Migdal holding a controlling stake in Bank Leumi. Tal apparently objected to the largest insurance company in the country controlling Israel's second largest bank.

The First International Bank of Israel FIBI5 shares are rising 2.5%. Credit rating firm Ma'alot downgraded FIBI from AAA- to AA+. Ma'alot said that the bank's credit portfolio largely consists of corporate credit, and that only a small portion of the portfolio is retail credit, compared with Bank Leumi and Bank Hapoalim.

Africa Israel is expected to attract attention today after it was reported to be part of the consortium bidding for the gas transfer tender. It is estimated that the proposal made by the Africa-Paz group comes to $400 million, and that if the group wins the tender it will get approval to build and operate a gas pipeline for transferring natural gas to consumers for a period of thirty years.

Bank stocks are trading mixed. Bank Hapoalim is down 0.7% on the session's biggest turnover, NIS 82 million. Bank Leumi is rising 1.5%, Mizrahi Bank is down 1.2%, and Bank Discount is trading unchanged.

Elbit Medical Imaging (Nasdaq:EMITF) is up 4.6%, Scitex (Nasdaq:SCIX) is climbing 4.8%, and Magic Software Enterprises (Nasdaq:MGIC) is gaining 5.7%. Retalix (Nasdaq:RTLX) is off 0.7%, Teva Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq:TEVA) is down 1.2%, and Nice Systems (Nasdaq:NICE) is off 0.5%.