ISRAELI stocks are outperforming as prospects that domestic gas output will start in 2013 bolster energy producers listed in Tel Aviv.
The benchmark TA-25 is poised for a 12 per cent annual rally as Isramco Negev 2 LP and Delek Group surged more than 24 per cent on forecasts that enough natural gas has been found to supply Israel's needs for 150 years.
This month the Finance Ministry raised its forecast for Israel's economic growth in 2013 to 3.5 per cent from 3 per cent to include the effect of natural gas discoveries, with the offshore Tamar field set to start production by the second quarter next year.
"The gas companies performed quite well this year as there was more clarity on production," Ori Licht, the head of research at IBI-Israel Brokerage and Investments, said last week.
Israeli natural gas companies working with Houston-based Noble Energy are examining plans to develop the Leviathan gasfield, the world's largest find of its kind in a decade before 2010.
Israel is considering exporting a portion of the gas to finance the projects.
Three weeks ago Woodside Petroleum confirmed it would make Australia's largest foreign direct investment into Israel, committing up to $US1.3 billion to take 30 per cent of the Leviathan field.
The TA-25 also got a lift in 2012 from banking stocks, which aren't part of the Bloomberg Israel-US Equity Index (ISRA25BN) of the largest Israeli companies traded in New York.
Bank Hapoalim, the second-largest lender and the most heavily weighted stock on the benchmark index, has gained 35 per cent in 2012 after dropping 33 per cent in 2011.
Bank Leumi Le-Israel, the nation's largest lender, has advanced 21 per cent.