Israel's largest banks, Leumi and Hapoalim, have both reported a rise in first-quarter net income. Hapoalim moved up by 4.6%, while Leumi rose by 2.5%.
Leumi's first-quarter earnings were well over its estimates. The bank's first quarter net profit was 596 million shekels ($155 million) compared to its expected earnings of 552 million. Profits were up 38.3% compared to the same period last year, when Leumi earned 429 million shekels.
The increase in profits reflected greater financing income and fewer defaults on loans, both seen by experts as signs of economic recovery.
The bank's assets at the end of the quarter totaled 317.6 billion shekels. Leumi managers say they are monitoring the bank's exposure to Greece, Portugal, Spain and Ireland, which are facing financial crises; the total Leumi exposure in those countries is approximately 1.1 billion shekels.
Profits at Leumi and Hapoalim, along with strong reports from Israel Chemicals and the drug firm Perrigo, led to a rise on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange on Thursday.