For the first time in decades, Bank Hapoalim, the largest bank in Israel, has announced losses, releasing a statement on Tuesday morning in which the bank predicts a loss of NIS 250 million in the fourth quarter of 2008. Following the announcement, trading on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange for shares in Bank Hapoalim ceased for 30 minutes. The statement attributed the loss to the global financial crisis, the drop in the value of their stocks, and the lower interest rates. "In light of the economic crisis which has grown ever stronger in the world and in Israel, and in light of financial and economic influences, and especially following the dramatic drop in interest rates in the world and in Israel at the end of 2008 which caused the drop in profit, and in light of the drop in value of the stocks which the bank is holding...the bank predicts that in the fourth quarter of 2008 a loss will be accrued at the amount of NIS 250 million" the bank statement said. "Because of this [the bank] will not realize the predicted forecast [of its profits in 2008]," the statement continued. "According to the updated assessment of the bank, on the basis of the current figures in our hands today, the bank is expected to report losses in its annual earning reports."