Tel Aviv stocks closed with 1% gains on Sunday despite a strong drag from weighty Teva Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq:TEVA) and Makhteshim-Agan Industries. After a weak 0.7% gain at opening, the Maof-25 index crossed the 400-point mark at mid-day.

The Maof-25 index finished 1.2% up at 403.1 points and the TA-100 index rose 1% to 383.8 points. Tech stocks climbed 1.7%. Total turnover was low at NIS 253 million.

Investors attributed the positive sentiment to Wall Street's stability on Friday and assessments that the central bank may substantially lower interest rates if the treasury lowers its growth forecast for 2002. The treasury currently ¿ officially - estimates growth next year at 4%. There is no consensus, but most analysts are talking about 2% to 3%.

But market players said that much of the gains in blue chip stocks were technical in nature.

Teva Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq:TEVA) lost 2.1% on a NIS 63 million volume of trade, 25% of the total turnover, after starting on a negative arbitrage gap of 3.7%.

Agrochemicals firm Makhteshim Agan Industries lost 1.5% on NIS 10 million turnover. Today the company reported earnings of $12 million for Q3, 23% more than in the same period last year. Revenue was stable at $222 million. The company is planning a convertible bonds issue next week, The has learned, which may have created pressure on its shares today.

Building company Azorim surged 6.7% on an NIS 3 million volume of trade after announcing an NIS 220 million dividend. Last week Azorim sold its subsidiary Ytong to Urdan Industries for NIS 234 million. Azorim itself received NIS 65 million dividend from Ytong.

IDB Development Corporation, which owns 64% in Azorim, gained 3.3%. IDB Holding Corporation rose by 3.7% on NIS 11.5 million. Clal Industries rose by 2.3% and Discount Investments closed up 2%.

Phone company Bezeq closed up 4.5% on NIS 30 million turnover. Bezeq has been rising since Communications Minister Reuven Rivlin declared that its days as a monopoly in the domestic market are over. It is also being boosted by the demise of talks between communications companies Cellcom and Ofek The New World to build a joint venture that would have competed with Bezeq in the domestic market.