JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni’s centrist Kadima party led exit polls after Tuesday’s parliamentary election by only a two-seat margin over right-winger Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party.
Three exit polls by Israeli broadcasters showed Kadima winning between 29 and 30 seats in parliament, versus 27 to 28 seats for Netanyahu’s Likud party.
EYAL KLEIN, CHIEF STRATEGIST, IBI INVESTMENT HOUSE, TEL AVIV:
”As far as the markets are concerned, what matters most is who will be finance minister. It might be someone left wing, it might be someone right wing. We don’t know.
“I wouldn’t expect to see a giant move in the stock market by this election alone. We have to see what happens in foreign markets and the kinds of decisions taken by (Treasury Secretary Tim) Geithner and (President Barack) Obama are more important to the Israeli stock market than Livni or Netanyahu as prime minister.”
”My gut feeling is there seems to be tremendous uncertainty what the next coalition will look like and markets don’t like uncertainty. Right now it isn’t clear from what I see who will form the next government. Uncertainty is not positive for markets.
”I think this is less positive for markets then if it was clear who will form the next government and what the coalition will look like. It’s still up in the air.
”From the very initial numbers which we’re seeing it seems like the formation of the government could take longer than expected which means approval of the budget will take longer and that’s not very good.
”If you put the (right-wing) Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu parties together you have the same number of mandates as Kadima and Labour.
”The bargaining power of religious parties has strengthened and that’s not good for Kadima.
“If you tag on U.S. stocks falling and the fact that the Israeli market outperformed Wall Street at the beginning of the year, all together it will probably be a bad day for Israeli markets tomorrow.”
SHLOMO MAOZ, CHIEF ECONOMIST, EXCELLENCE NESSUAH BROKERAGE, TEL AVIV:
”We are going to have an unstable political situation the next few years. It will be unstable no matter who wins -- Livni or Netanyahu. They are going to have a very hard time with Obama and Europe. Within two years we will have a new election.
”I don’t think Kadima will be able to set up a government. But let’s say they will, the markets will not like it. Kadima is not talking about having an economic program like other countries to stimulate the economy.
“If Livni brings in Netanyahu as finance minister I see a rally. We will see a bigger rally than if he would be prime minister. People like his economic policies.”
Reporting by Steven Scheer and Tova Cohen