Sunday, January 01, 2006

Israeli economy expanded for the third straight year


Israeli stocks rose after the government said gross domestic product grew 5.2 percent last year, citing preliminary figures. Strauss-Elite Ltd., the country's second-biggest foodmaker, led the advance.

The Tel Aviv-25 Index climbed 2.62, or 0.3 percent, to 826.04 as 11 stocks on the benchmark rose, 11 fell and three were unchanged. Investors bought and sold about 692 million shekels ($150 million) in shares and convertibles.

Israel's economy expanded for the third straight year, boosted by a 4 percent increase in consumer spending and a 7 percent gain in exports of goods and services, the government's central bureau of statistics said in Jerusalem today. The growth helped boost the TA-25 index by a third in 2005 to a record high.

The following shares also gained or fell in Israel. Stock symbols are in parentheses after company names.

Scitex Corp. (SCIX IT), a maker of digital-imaging equipment, fell 0.37 shekels, or 1.4 percent, to 27.13 shekels.
The company's board approved a proposal to change its name to Scailex Corp., Scitex said in a PR Newswire statement Dec. 30.

Strauss-Elite Ltd. (STEL IT), Israel's second-largest foodmaker, rose 2.61 shekel, or 6.4 percent, to 43.64 shekels, its biggest one-day jump in almost two years.
The company said it completed a merger between its Brazilian unit, Café Tres Coracoes, and Café Santa Clara to create the second-largest coffee maker in Brazil. The merger will help Strauss-Elite's worldwide coffee sales increase to 2 billion shekels in 2006 ($434 million) from 1.2 billion last year, the company said in an e-mailed statement.

Tadiran Communications Ltd. (TDCM IT), Israeli maker of military communications systems, rose 10.30 shekels, or 7.4 percent, to 149.40 shekels, its biggest one-day increase in more than four years.
The company won a $55 million contract from an unidentified Asian customer. The order is for tactical radios that will be used by the country's land forces, the Holon, Israel-based company said in a statement to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange today.

Elbit Systems Ltd. (ESLT IT), which owns 39 percent of Tadiran, rose 3.30 shekels, or 2.9 percent, to 116.20 shekels.