Tel Aviv stocks finished Wednesday above the flatline on paper-thin turnover, as investors took heart at the absence of bad news on the anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the United States, and at rising stocks in Europe. Shortly before closing the London Stock Exchange was up 1%, Frankfurt was surging by 2.2% and the Paris bourse was rising by 1.7%.

But security fears in the United States and Israel a year after the September 11 attacks on the U.S. deterred investors, as attested by the tiny turnover. Jitters of a showcase terror attack by Al Qaeda were exacerbated by the sound of war drumming from Washington.

The day began with mild drops on vanishingly small turnover, which had climbed to all of NIS 15 million by 11:30 in the morning. The session was characterized by fluctuations around the flatline, with share prices swaying on relatively small transactions.

Irrespective of the symbolic date, traders had expect the uncertainty to keep turnovers lower than usual. Market sources noted that on Tuesday, the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange was supported by the Fatah organization's announcement of a hiatus in terror attacks but today there was a feeling that the announcement was rather ambiguous.

The Maof-25 index finished up 0.4% at 373.8 points while the TA-100 index gained 0.3% to 362.2 points. Tech stocks inched up by 0.3%.

The banks were still the talk of the floor, with

Bank Hapoalim(TASE:

POLI

) rolled up and down and ended flat on turnover of NIS 13.4 million.

Bank Leumi Le-Israel(TASE:

LUMI

) reversed to gain 1%, after Tel Aviv-based brokerage Nessuah Zannex today reiterated a long-term Buy rating for the bank and set a target of NIS 7.9 a hefty 34% above its current market price.

Nessuah Zannex estimated that Leumi's 2002 earnings will drop 25% from the prior year to by 718 million, though it sees an improvement in its return on capital.

Market players say interest in Leumi has waned, because the state will shortly be releasing a flood of shares - 6% to 7% of the bank's share capital onto the market. Investors wanting to buy Leumi are waiting for that offering, traders say.

Electronics Line, which is also registered for trade in Frankfurt, shot up by 18.2% on low turnover. Two weeks ago UBS Warburg bought a block of stock worth about NIS 3 million, at prices of NIS 35.4 to NIS 39 per share. Today EL's opening price was NIS 31.5, but its gain has brought it to NIS 37.

Nitsba Holdings (TASE:

NTBA

) reversed to drop 3.4% on thin turnover after yesterday gaining 7.1%, after reports that Yossi Maimon bought control over the company according to a company value of NIS 160 million to NIS 170 million. Turnover in the share was low yesterday, a few tens of thousands of shekel. Market players say that Nitsba is trading at a deep discount but investors don't want to get in because of the share's low negotiability.

Drug companies are still in the limelight. A perennial favorite,

Teva Pharmaceuticals

(Nasdaq:

TEVA

), retreated by 0.2% on the sression's highest turnover, NIS 5 million. Last week the company announced two FDA approvals for 67-milligram fenofibrate capsules, used to treat excessive levels of triglycerides in the blood, and for cefaclor, an cyclosporin antibiotic.

Fellow drug company

Agis Industries (TASE:

AGIS

) also shed 0.2% after ambling ahead in recent days.

Chemicals were brisk movers, with

Israel Chemicals (TASE:

CHIM

) retreating by 0.2% on hefty turnover of NIS 4.8 million, and

Makhteshim Agan Industries (TASE:

MAIN

) losing 0.6%. Both companies had gained considerable ground recently.