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Shekel May Rise as Central Bank to Lift Rates, BNP Paribas Says

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Nov. 18 (Bloomberg) -- The shekel, up 3.7 percent this year, may strengthen further as the Bank of Israel raises interest rates, according to BNP Paribas SA.

Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer increased the benchmark lending rate to 2 percent in September citing a surge in housing prices. The benchmark rate will end the year at 2.25 percent, said Elisabeth Gruie, a London-based strategist at BNP Paribas.

“Whether this is reached in November or December is somewhat irrelevant to the currency’s general behavior, which we expect to benefit from the pricing in of monetary tightening in the year to come,” Gruie wrote today in a research report. “Our perception is that Governor Fischer will be itching to return to the ‘normalization policy’ sooner rather than later.”

Fischer may “once again surprise the consensus” at the bank’s Nov. 22 meeting, Gruie wrote. The key interest rate will remain unchanged for a second consecutive month, according to 12 of the 19 economists surveyed by Bloomberg. Seven predict a 25 basis-point increase.

Against that backdrop, investors should buy the shekel against an equally weighted basket of U.S. dollars and euros, she said.

The shekel rose the most in two weeks, advancing 0.6 percent to 3.6539 per dollar at 12:59 p.m. in Tel Aviv.

To contact the reporter on this story: David Wainer in Tel Aviv at dwainer1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Maedler at cmaedler@bloomberg.net.

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