Panic on TASE as Tel Aviv 25 Index plunges 7%

Investors sold more than NIS 1 billion worth of shares while options trading saw the shekel weaken to NIS 3.6/$.

Panic swept the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) today as the Tel Aviv 25 Index fell 7% to 1,074.27 points. The opening of trading was delayed when the automatic shut off kicked, and trading only began at 10:44 am, instead of the usual 9 am. Both the public and institutional investors sold more than NIS 1 billion worth of shares. Trading options in the foreign currency market saw the shekel dollar rate rise to NIS 3.6/$.

Today's panic directly follows the TASE's worst week since 2008. It was exacerbated today by Friday's steep drops in international stock markets and Friday night's credit downgrade of US bonds by Standard & Poor's. Fears that Europe's debt crisis, which led to 12 straight days of losses in European markets, will spread, combined with fears of a slowdown in the US.

Under TASE regulations, trading does not open if the Tel Aviv 25 market swings by more than 2.5% in either direction in premarket trading; trading is delayed by 3-5 minutes. If the swing is 8%, trading is delayed by 45 minutes, and if the swing is 12%, trading is suspended for the day.

A UBS Israel trading room dealer told "Globes", "Foreign investors are very active today, especially in Israel Chemicals Ltd. (TASE: ICL), Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (Nasdaq: TEVA; TASE: TEVA), the banks, and telecommunications stocks, even though it is Sunday. Some foreign investors are buying shares, after waiting for prices to fall."

This was the market's eighth straight day of falls, and today's 7% plunge on the Tel Aviv 25 comes after the index lost 6.3% last week.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on August 7, 2011

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2011

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