Tel Aviv stocks closed flat Monday on anticipated end of Bethlehem standoff - TheStreet

Tel Aviv stocks ended the Monday session flat. The Maof-25 blue chip index and the TA-100 index each edged up 0.1%. Technology shares closed down 0.2%. Total turnover was a low NIS 140 million.

Stocks opened up 0.5% on reports that Israel and the Palestinians have reached an agreement in principle resolving the crisis at Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity. The gains lasted till 12:30, when stocks slid into mild losses. The market changed course some time later, sustaining tiny gains up to closing.

Market players said investors are waiting to see how Nasdaq closes today. They noted recent TASE gains constitute a correction of sharp losses posted at the beginning of last week and should Nasdaq continue dropping, the local market won't be able to ignore it.

Bank Hapoalim closed up 0.9%, Bank Leumi climbed 0.3%. Mizrahi Bank slipped 0.2%, and Bank Discount closed down 1.6%.

Leader DS analyst Yuval Ben Zeev estimates that the banks will continue making big doubtful debt provisions in Q1, much as they did in the second half of 2001. The analyst believes that the banks' results will be hurt by negative yields in the capital market, and by gaps between the expected index and the known index. Ben Zeev believes that Discount Bank's provisions will be higher than the average in the sector, and that it will post losses in Q1.

Paradigm Geophysical (Nasdaq:PGEO), which provides technical information solutions for the oil market leapt 15.5% after Ma'ariv reported that an American firm is in talks to acquire the company at $100 million valuation. A Paradigm Geophysical spokesman told TheMarker there's nothing concrete, and that should there be, the company will provide information.

Drug giant Teva Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq:TEVA) closed up 0.6% on the session's biggest turnover, NIS 30 million. Teva has recently attracted positive analyst ratings after posting excellent results. Leader DS rated Teva a Strong Buy, setting a NIS 400 price target, 45% above the market.

Koor Industries (NYSE:KOR) jumped 5.5% and Clal Industries closed up 1%. Affiliate ECI Telecom (Nasdaq:ECIL) yesterday posted $194.7 million revenue for Q1, close to projections. Loss came to $52.1 million, among other things due to a $53 million write off in subsidiary InnoWave. The results are generally not as bad as had initially been expected.

Digital recording system maker Nice Systems (Nasdaq:NICE) climbed 2.2%. Nice announced that the Austrian civil aviation authority has ordered two NiceLog systems for the Linz and Graz airports.

Israel Chemicals dropped 1.5% on NIS 3.5 million. Leader DS estimates results will improve in Q1, compared with Q4 in 2001, but that the results will fall short of Q1 in 2001.

Information technology firm Formula Systems (Nasdaq:FORTY) dropped 2.1%.

Peled Investments plunged 29.5% on small turnover.