Spring wasn't the only thing popping up in the month of April, including a bounce in shekel exchange rates for both the US dollar and sterling. Meanwhile, exporters sent billions packing in the first quarter of 2018, although new home purchasers continued to go nowhere. Plus, the Israeli internet gets a historic reboot, and things are looking up for the US dollar over at the IsraTransfer currency trading desk. Ready to catch up on the month in review? The scroll down to get the scoop.
From the IsraTransfer Currency Trading Desk
The sterling-to-shekel exchange rate definitely took gold when it came to flips in the month of April. After much anticipation, it traded above 5.00 for the first time since 2016. However, things took a turn for the worse with the revelation of a slowing UK economy. With the economic data now being factored into the rate, we wouldn't be surprised to see another test of the key psychological 5.00 level sometime in the near future.
Elsewhere, those waiting to exchange US dollars to shekels were rewarded for their patience as the USD/NIS exchange rate has finally returned back to the 3.60 level. After trading at or above 3.60 for the past few trading days, we are fairly confident that reasonable new support has now been established to feel a little more confident about it going forward.
Furthermore, with inflation continuing to be virtually non-existent, as well as new fears of a weakening economy, experts now believe that the chances of future Bank of Israel interest rate hikes are pretty much over. With the US already planning for two more of their own cuts over the remainder of the year, an even bigger spread between the two countries' currencies is also expected. When coupled with rising security concerns in the region, some analysts are projecting an exchange rate even as high as 3.65 in the forseeable future.
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Israel Exports Rise
April was truly a month b'simcha, especially for Israel's exporters, in the wake of very favorable economic data. Leading the way, defense exports soared to a 40% increase that generated a record-setting $9 billion in yearly sales. Additionally, exports of services also took a jump of nearly 7% in the month of March, with over 50% of the $4.2 billion in revenue coming from Israel's high-tech sector.
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Israel Real Estate
What a difference a year has made in Israel's housing market. New data released by the Central Bureau of Statistics found an over 20% decline in new home sales in the last 12 months from the year prior. Not all the news was negative however, as data showed a strong rise in mortgage taking during the month of March. Per figures published by the Bank of Israel, new mortgages totaling 5.2 billion NIS were 14% above the monthly average.
While the jump to 7,802 mortgages in March stacks up favorably to the 6,835 monthly average over he past 12 months, a longer-term stagnation in mortgage demand still exists. As a result, some banks believe many potential buyers will continue to remain on the sidelines for the time being until a more clear picture of market comes into focus.
The Great Israel Webpage Refresh
The actual face of the land isn’t the only thing looking different in Israel over the past 20-plus years. In fitting with April’s motif of celebrating Israeli culture, a history of the look and feel of the Israeli internet over time, featuring archived images is now on display, online of course. Interestingly, because web browsers at the time were only able to process a Latin font, the first websites to go online in Israel were actually English-speaking.
For those looking to do a little more time travelling, the Open Media Information Lab and the National Library of Israel’s interactive online exhibit should definitely be visited.
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