Crude oil prices hit high

The Tel Aviv-25 Index rose for the first time in three days.

SHARES TEL AVIV The Tel Aviv-25 Index rose for the first time in three days, adding 3.05, or 0.3 percent, to 1,048 at the close. Investors traded about NIS 1.26 billion in shares and convertible securities. The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange said trading ended at 2:15 p.m. instead of 5:30 p.m. because of a labor union dispute. Africa Israel Investments Ltd. gained for the first time in three days, adding 1.6%. AudioCodes Ltd. dropped for a third day, down 0.9%. Bezeq Ltd. climbed for the first time in four days, increasing 0.8%. Lifewave Ltd. snapped four days of declines, increasing 3.7%. WALL STREET Stocks sank Monday, as oil's surge above $107 a barrel and more worrisome signs for the financial sector led investors to extend last week's losses. Wall Street had no bleak economic data to contend with Monday, but instead faced a steady drumbeat of negative news on companies exposed to mortgages. By midday, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 62.28, or 0.52%, to 11,831.41, after briefly dropping more than 100 points. Broader stock indicators also retreated. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 9.51, or 0.74%, at 1,283.86, while the Nasdaq composite index fell 18.92, or 0.86%, to 2,193.57. EUROPE European stocks struggled to move into positive territory Monday, but concerns about global inflation and the credit crisis continued to weigh them down, resulting in further losses by the close for most major markets. The Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index closed down 1.2% at 304.15. In terms of national markets, the UK's FTSE 100 Index lost 1.2% at 5,629.10, France's CAC-40 Index eased 1.1% percent at 4,566.99 and Germany's DAX Index fell 1.0% to 6,448.08. ASIA Asian stocks fell to a seven-week low, led by mining companies and automakers, after surprise job losses in the US heightened concern the world's biggest economy is in recession. Toyota Motor Corp., which got 37% of its sales from North America last fiscal year, retreated after the yen climbed to an eight-year high. BHP Billiton Ltd., the world's biggest mining company, declined on concern metals demand will weaken. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index slumped 1.5% to 137.48 at 7:20 p.m. in Tokyo, the lowest since January 23. The gauge is down 13% this year amid fears of mounting credit-market losses and a US recession that have wiped about $5 trillion from global stock markets. Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average fell 2% to 12,532.13. China's CSI 300 Index dropped 4.1% to a seven-month low. All regional markets retreated apart from Hong Kong. CURRENCIES The shekel climbed as much as 1% to 3.5645 per dollar, the highest level since February 25, and was at 3.5785 by 5:47 p.m. in Tel Aviv, from 3.6010 at the end of last week. The dollar rebounded from close to a record low against the euro after European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet said the central bank was concerned about excessive exchange-rate moves. Investors drove the euro up 17% in the past year as they bet the US Federal Reserve will keep slashing interest rates to avert a recession. The euro set a record high in eight of the past nine trading days, hurting European exports by making them more expensive in foreign markets. The yen held close to an eight-year high. The dollar traded at $1.5355 per euro at 10:07 a.m. in New York, from $1.5355 at the end of last week, when it touched $1.5459, the weakest level since the common European currency's debut in 1999. The US currency fell to 102.14 yen, from 102.67 yen on March 7, when it slid to 101.43, the lowest since January 2000. COMMODITIES Fueled by a continuing weak dollar, crude oil futures surged above $107 Monday, a new inflation-adjusted record and their fifth new high in the last six sessions. Light, sweet crude for April delivery rose $2.30 to $107.45 a barrel at midday on the New York Mercantile Exchange after earlier setting a new trading record of $107. The dollar, which has driven the rally from $87 in January, remains a force in the market, though the US currency firmed a bit Monday from lows hit at the end of last week. Gasoline prices, meanwhile, were poised to set a new record at the pump, having surged to within half a cent of their record high of $3.227 a gallon (85 cents a liter). The US average price of a gallon of gas rose 0.7 cent overnight to $3.222 a gallon, 69 cents higher than one year ago, according to AAA and the Oil Price Information Service. Last May, prices peaked at $3.227 as surging demand and a string of refinery outages raised concerns about supplies. Gold futures pared losses as energy costs surged, boosting demand for the precious metal as an inflation hedge. Silver fell. Gold surged 31% last year, while oil climbed 57%. Consumer prices in 2007 accelerated at the fastest pace in 17 years. Gold futures for April delivery fell 80 cents to $973.40 an ounce at 1:02 p.m. on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. The price earlier fell as low as $961.90 on speculation the euro's rally against the dollar could stall. The metal reached a record $995.20 on March 5. Silver futures for May delivery declined 31 cents, or 1.5%, to $19.94 an ounce. The price tumbled as much as 4.8%. The metal reached $21.325 on March 6, the highest since October 1980.