Believe-It-or-Not for the Week
Israel’s scientific research institutions are ranked 3rd in the world and Israel is ranked second worldwide in space sciences.
· Yesterday [Wednesday] the lion of Ahad Ha’am Street roared. The TA Stock Exchange powered ahead in the most dramatic – and longest – trading session in Israeli history. The day was marked by the heaviest turnover on record as Israel was upgraded to a developed market in the MSCI World Index (the MSCI World is a stock market index of 1500 ‘world’ stocks. It includes a selection from all the developed markets and includes shares from 23 countries). Even the experienced know-it-alls – and we mean that in the nicest way – who had expected a turbulent trading session because of the upgrade were left open-mouthed at events as Israel said a final good-bye to the MSCI Emerging Markets index and moved to the ranks of the developed world. Here are a few of the things that happened:
Total turnover in Israeli shares passed NIS 16.4 billion yesterday, more than eight times the average daily volume
The TA Exchange extended trading hours to cope with the unprecedented flood of orders, closing at 6 not 4.30.
Investment managers worldwide are taking notice of Israel and are starting to want in.
All Tel Aviv’s leading indexes gained ground, some by extreme numbers.
The index of technology shares gained more than 4%.
The index tracking Real Estate companies advanced more than 5%.
The biggest gainer on the benchmark TA-25 index was Delek Drilling, whose shares jumped 8%.
While shares in Lev Leviev’s Real Estate company Africa Israel gained almost 10%.
· And according to most of the mavens: “The action is just beginning,” The economy is thriving and this is one more manifestation of how robust it is. Looks like GN to us.
· We let you know last week that Israel is now an official member of the OECD – we thrive on abbreviations – which predicts that Israel will achieve 3.8% GDP growth in 2010, and attain 4.2% growth in 2011. Now those estimates are even higher than the growth forecasts by the Bank of Israel [the BoI] that tell us that increases of 3.7% GDP in 2010 and 4% in 2011 is what we’re looking at. Nice to know that the most important economic organization in the world is more bullish about our situation than we are ourselves.
· In a beautiful ceremony held Monday morning at the Beit Yaakov synagogue in Jerusalem, 52 hearing-impaired children, some of them profoundly so, celebrated their bar and bat mitzvahs. Proud parents, family and friends looked on as the children experienced this rite of passage with the aid of the Judaic Heritage Program for Israel’s Deaf and Hearing Impaired, sponsored by the Council of Young Israel Rabbis in Israel. “This program works to connect [deaf and hearing impaired] children with both their own Jewish community and the greater community of Israel. The obligations for Jewish children to take part in a bar or bat mitzvah has no lines or boundaries,” explained Rabbi Yeres, the Program Coordinator. Like any other bar mitzvah, the boys put on tefillin and were called to the reading of the Torah to signify their coming of age. The girls said the blessing over Shabbat candles, and recited the Shema Yisrael. An extraordinary achievement for these young men and women and a deeply moving experience for all concerned.
· Bank Mizrahi-Tefahot yesterday reported a net profit of NIS 172 million for the first quarter, an increase of 56% against the same period of 2009
· Knowing that somebody is being sarcastic or ironic when they’re talking to you is not really difficult because there are so many signs and signals besides the actual language, but over a dozen teams around the world have been trying to detect sarcasm – or verbal irony – in written, textual form for years without success. But now Hebrew University researchers have succeeded consistently in finding sarcasm in texts in 73% of cases on average. When the software spots the sarcasm does it Beep? We don’t have the answer to that but we suppose so. Ah, the marvelous things that they do with university funding. Beep, Beep. [We’re only kidding].
· Top Image Systems, which makes document recognition systems, announced yesterday that it has been awarded the 2011 Indian population census project. The project is the largest census in the world, TIS says. The job consists of two phases, the first being the Housing and House listing Census, which the company expects to wrap up by September. The second phase, counting the people – more than one and a half billion of them. It must be something like painting the Sydney Harbor bridge, as soon as you finish you have to start again in time for the next census – should start in February. TIS’ eFLOW must be doing it right, first, because they won the huge Indian tender and second they’ve already successfully completed census projects in Turkey, Brazil, Ireland, Scotland, South Africa, Italy and Cyprus. No cost has been published for the undertaking.
· Israeli singer Harel Skaat advanced, last night [Thursday] to the Eurovision song contest final to be held in Norway on Saturday night. With the Israeli composition ‘Milim” [Words] many people in the know regard Harel as the hot favorite but, of course, only time will tell.
· Insurance company Harel reported a net profit of NIS 181 million for the first quarter, a sharp increase of 59% from NIS 114 million a year earlier.
· Bat El Geterer is a young lady that you wouldn’t want to pick a fight with. In the European Championships held in St Petersburg, Russia last week Bat El bested a competitor from the Ukraine in the finals to take Gold in the u-57 kilogram division. Another Blue and Whiter, Moti Lugasi brought home Bronze from the same competition.
· ‘Thar she blows’, or whatever it is that you shout when you strike oil because that’s what happened at Givot Olam Oil Exploration LP yesterday [Thursday] where they announced that the production test in Section 1 of its Meged 5 well near Rosh Ha’Ayin yielded 33 barrels of liquid 1 over eight hours. The company is continuing the test, and will report the number of barrels of oil that flowed and their oil/water ratio over a given period of time. The company has been cautious with its public announcements so as not to cause an unjustified run on its shares.
· Even more exciting than striking oil is the GN from the Central Bureau of Statistics that the unemployment rate continued its downward trend and fell to 7.2% of the civilian labor force in the first quarter of 2010 from 7.3% in the fourth quarter of 2009. Every percentage point represents a goodly number of people regaining the dignity that goes with being gainfully employed.
· Meanwhile on the tennis courts of France, and more specifically at Roland Garros, Israeli competitors are battling cold, rain and some tough competition but, with one exception, are hanging in there. Here are the details: Tennis star, Shahar Pe’er steamrollered past Bethanie Mattek-Sands of the US, 3-6, 6-0, 6-1 to move into the third round of the singles and together with Rumanian partner Monica Niculescu saw off French pair, Lefevre and Vedy 6-4, 6-3 to move into the second round of the doubles. The all Israeli duo of Erlich and Sela beat Prieto and Vliegen 7-6, 7-6 to move into the next round together with Andy Ram and partner Julian Knowles who beat local pair Clement and Mahut in straight sets 7-5, 7-6. Looks like a good show all round.