That bullishness has helped propel tech stocks higher this year, with the Nasdaq rising 19% in 2013, in line with the rise in the S&P 500 index. In fact, the Nasdaq is now trading at its highest level since late 2000, before the second wave of the dot-com crash brought it back to earth. It’s now roughly doubled since bottoming out in early 2009, in the wake of the financial meltdown. With that much optimism already baked into tech stocks, all eyes will be on the third-quarter forecasts given out by tech companies over the next few weeks.
Finance minister scales back budget cuts
Lapid also agreed to relinquish a planned tax on the purchase of a second apartment, and instead will impose an altered tax increase on luxury apartment purchases. The current 5% purchase tax on apartments valued at NIS 5 million ($1.39 million) or more will be increased to 6% and applied to apartments worth NIS 4.5 million ($1.25 million) or more. In addition, a suggested health and national insurance tax on nonworking mothers will not be applied, and cuts in child benefits will be reduced. The government said it would make up the NIS 3.5 billion ($980 million) it was projected to lose in revenue from the changes to the budget by imposing further cuts in the education and transportation ministries budgets. In May, the Finance Ministry approved a series of austerity measures aimed at cutting government spending by some NIS 6.5 billion (almost $2 billion) in 2013 and by NIS 18 billion (some $5 billion) in 2014, largely through cuts in defense, child benefits (NIS 2 billion, or $560 million) and transportation infrastructure projects (NIS 1.2 billion, or $336 million).