Lively buying by institutional investors propped up Tel Aviv stocks on Sunday, helping to cut steep morning losses following Wall Street's horrible weekend.

The Dow Jones ended the last trading week down 4.6% to a five-year low of 8,019 points and Nasdaq, where many Israeli stocks are listed, tumbled 2.8% to 1,319 points, leading dual-listed stocks to open this Sunday with negative arbitrage gaps.

Leading indices fluctuated, starting with a 2% dive that eased to a mid-day slump of less than 1% below the flatline thanks to lively buying by institutional investors, traders said. But losses picked up again in the afternoon, leading the Maof-25 index to finish down 1.2% at 381.1 points. The Tel Aviv-100 index ended down 1.4% at 364.8 points and tech stocks tumbled by 2.3%. Total turnover was moderate at NIS 268 million.

The Tel Aviv-100 index is losing 1.1% to 365.9 points. The tech index is off 2.3%. Trading volumes are fairly lively at NIS 145 million.

Market players attributed the relative resilience of Israeli stocks on Sunday to heavy buying by the big banks' provident funds. The strengthening of the shekel in shekel-dollar options trade also helped shore up share prices, they said.

Teva Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq:TEVA) ended the American trading week with a large arbitrage gap of 4.3% and consequently lost 4.2% on hefty turnover of NIS 36.5 million.

The sell-off of drugmakers on the Street was at least partly due to an announcement from Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) that the FDA and Department of Justice have commenced a criminal investigation into its Puerto Rican plant. JNJ's Ortho Biologics plant in Manati makes the anemia treatment Eprex, which has been linked to serious illnesses in Europe and Canada. The New York Times reported that the probe was sparked by a whistleblower lawsuit from a fired worker.

The story sent JNJ stock nosediving 16% on Wall Street, with other drugmakers getting sucked into the vortex.

Koor Industries (NYSE:KOR), which ended the Tel Aviv trading week up 9.2% on rumors that Bank Hapoalim had sold a 20% stake in the conglomerate, sank on Sunday by 3.7% on turnover of NIS 8.1 million, after starting on a 3.3% negative arbitrage spread with NYSE.

Bank Leumi is off 3.9% as investors took profit after steep recent gains. Today the Ma'ariv daily wrote that the Bank of Israel approved a state offering of 5% to 6% of Leumi's stock.

Nice Systems (Nasdaq:NICE) started the day with a 5.5% negative arbitrage gap with the Street and ended down 4.3%.