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Tel Aviv stocks ended mildly up after the session opened with a dull-as-dishwater options expiry. Options expiries are usually stormy affairs as massive amounts of underlying assets change hands. Not today.

(Options on the Maof-25 index usually expire on the last trading Thursday of each month. But because the TASE will be closed Wednesday and Thursday this week for Memorial Day and Independence Day, respectively, the options expired today. The closing Maof-25 index by which the April options will be calculated is 413.13 points, 0.42% below the Maof's closing level on Monday.)

The Maof-25 index ended up 0.3% to 416.1 points but the TA-100 index ended almost unchanged, up 0.04%, at 406.8 points. The Tel-Tech index lost 1.2% after hovering closer to zero in the afternoon.

The total turnover was thin for an expiry day, at only NIS 428 million.

The day's losers included the two big banks. Leumi dropped 0.2% on hefty turnover of NIS 37.3 million. Hapoalim ended off 0.1% on the session's highest turnover, NIS 38.5 million. Discount Investments cut its steep morning loss to close down 0.2% at mid-day. This morning


revealed that the broadcasting watchdog is forcing Discount Investments to sell its 40% stake in the Israeli channel Playboy, because of cross-ownership problems. Discount Investments also owns a stake in the Tevel cable TV company.

Other IDB group companies ended negative, but again the figures were generally not earth-shaking. IDB Development closed down 0.1%, IDB Holdings ended unchanged, Clal Industries wound up down 0.7% but Clal Electronics sank by a more decisive 4%.

The insurance sector was strong. Migdal gained 2.5% and Clal Insurance is climbed by 2.9%.

Chemicals ended a mixed day on the up and up, with Israel Chemicals (ICL) gaining 1% and Makhteshim-Agan rising 1.7% after announcing a new policy of distributing dividends every quarter. This year Makhteshim will be distributing dividends of 15% to 30% of its net profit.