Israel’s stock exchange takes on Iran

The Tel Aviv Stock Market (TASE) has not set alight many pockets in the past 12 months. A 5% boost is fairly modest compared to some of its rivals in the leading group of world exchanges.

With the possible exception of Mellanox, there have been very few consistent star performers. Couple that with worries over the expected growth rate for 2013, the outlook may appear to be dodgy for speculators.

That said, a number of positive factors are also smiling in the face of investors. Many people, especially from overseas, are beginning to take notice. In fact, as TASE closed trading ahead of a two-day break, it finished the day up 1.6%.

The market opened in the green and rose steadily all day long, despite the losses in European markets at the same time. Asian shares also closed lower. What stood out on Monday was the trading volume, which was over NIS 1.1 billion, some 75% higher than recent averages.

So what’s going on?

It would be trite at this stage to launch in to a discussion of economic indicators. Not all of them are positive, especially export stats for July and August 2012. Unemployment is still creeping up. On the other hand, there are signs that the government is finally beginning to take back control of the budget. The new tax law to help international firms in Israel is a step in the right direction.

However, I want to look at a poke at the geopolitical aspect. This week, the President of Iran has been addressing the UN in New York. As usual, his anti-semitism has led him to predict the end of the zionist state, sooner rather than later. For all that, the investors, as conservative as they are, are returning to the Holy Land. Just look at SingTel, one of the largest telecom companies in the world.

It is difficult to explain why or how to an outsider. For nearly 65 years, the Israeli economy has continued to progress despite genuine existential threats, and that success has been singularly marked since 2000. I do not trust Iran one iota, but I believe along with investors that Israel will come through the crisis  – safer and sounder. That is my prayer, as Israel celebrates her New Year.

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