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Dizzy Dollar Dumps the Shekel

The shekel-dollar rate has soared 4 percent in the past two weeks, with the latest jump today (Wednesday) prompted by expectations that the Bank of Israel will lower the interest rate again in June.

The rate crossed the level of 3.69 shekels to the dollar on Wednesday after having dropped under 3.55 shekels to the dollar earlier this month.

After Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer announced a plan for a $2 billion buying binge to purchase dollars, the rate jumped towards 3.60 and then moved up again when he sprung a surprise mid-month quarter of a percent cut in the interest rate. The Bank almost always decides at the end of the nth on the interest rate for the following month.

A lower rate makes the shekel less attractive to investors and helps exporters, whose revenue Finance Ministry dollars will be worth more shekels after conversion.

Expectations of another cut to be announced next week caused speculators and investors to dump shekels Wednesday. Analysts are divided on whether the new upward trend of the shekel-dollar rate will continue or if the shekel will regain strength, partly due to plans to export natural gas from offshore discoveries.

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