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Hapoalim Jumps to Highest in a Month With Leumi as Profits Grow

Bank Hapoalim Ltd. (POLI) and Bank Leumi Le-Israel Ltd. (LUMI) climbed to the highest in more than a month after the country’s two biggest lenders by assets posted increased first-quarter profit.

Hapoalim advanced 2.1 percent to 20.54 shekels and Leumi gained 1.3 percent to 13.98 shekels at 12:03 a.m. in Tel Aviv, the highest since April 8 for both. The benchmark TA-25 Index increased 0.3 percent. Bank Hapoalim said net income surged 21 percent to 753 million shekels ($216 million) in the first three months and Bank Leumi’s jumped 10 percent to 625 million shekels.

“The banks have presented strong earnings,” Terence Klingman, head of research at Psagot Investment House Ltd., said by phone from Tel Aviv. “Credit quality is good as companies are paying back their loans helped by very low interest rates, and as the economy continues to expand.”

Israel’s lenders have pared corporate lending and targeted households and small businesses amid tougher capital adequacy directives from the central bank, which has cut interest rates 10 times since 2011 to 0.75 percent. Economic growth is expected to accelerate to 3.5 percent next year from 3.3 percent in 2014, according to the average estimate of 13 economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

To contact the reporter on this story: Shoshanna Solomon in Tel Aviv at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Samuel Potter at James Doran

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