Tel Aviv stocks plunge

This comes in response to oil prices reaching record highs and inflation concerns.

SHARES TEL AVIV The Tel Aviv-25 Index fell the most since March 30, losing 1.8 percent to 1,087.60. Investors traded about NIS 1.84 billion in shares and convertible securities. Africa Israel Investments Ltd. gained 2%. AFI Development Plc, Africa Israel's Russian property unit, sold the Aquamarine II building in central Moscow for $207 million and said it will post a $35m. profit from the deal in the second quarter of 2008. Mizrahi Tefahot Bank Ltd. declined 2.4%. It said its board had approved a payment plan for 309 executives in which they will receive options for 32.5 million shares. Oil Refineries Ltd. fell 2.4%. Carmel Olefins Ltd., the maker of raw materials for the plastics industry that is 50%-owned by Oil Refineries, was ordered by the Environmental Protection Ministry to shut one of its facilities in Haifa until it cuts emissions. Tower Semiconductor Ltd. fell 1.3%. The maker of computer chips for other companies will buy US semiconductor maker Jazz Technologies Inc. in a $40m. share swap to add customers and reduce costs. WALL STREET Wall Street tumbled Tuesday after oil prices spiked to a new record above $129 a barrel and a government report raised investors' concerns about the impact of inflation on consumer spending. The Dow Jones industrials fell more than 200 points. In midday trading, the Dow fell 207.95, or 1.61%, to 12,818.99. The blue chip index was at its lows of the session and recorded its biggest intraday tumble since a 224 point drop on May 7. Broader market indexes also retreated. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index shed 14.09, or 0.99%, to 1,412.54, and the Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 33.46, or 1.33%, to 2,482.63. EUROPE European stocks fell, sending the Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index to its biggest decline in two months, as record oil prices weighed on the outlook for profits and analysts said the financial-market turmoil is not over. The Stoxx 600 lost 6.9, or 2.1%, to 325.97. National indexes fell in all 18 markets in western Europe. The UK's FTSE 100 slumped 2.9% to 6,191.6, while Germany's DAX retreated 1.5% and France's CAC 40 sank 1.7%. ASIA Asian markets dropped as sentiment eroded after last week's earthquake in China and worries grew over the impact of rising oil prices. Chinese markets suffered the biggest losses amid reports that damage in Sichuan province was greater than expected. The Shanghai Composite Index fell 4.5% to 3,443.22, In Hong Kong, the blue-chip Hang Seng Index shed 2.2% to close at 25,169.46. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 Index slipped 0.8% to 14,160.09. With the quake's aftermath souring the markets' mood, traders sought to lock in recent gains. CURRENCIES The shekel dropped 0.3% to 3.3752 per dollar, snapping six days of gains. It was the best performer among 11 emerging-market currencies in Europe, the Middle East and Africa tracked by Bloomberg in the past six months, gaining 15% versus the dollar. The dollar fell the most in more than a month against the euro as the price of oil rose above $129 for the first time and speculation increased that the European Central Bank will keep interest rates high. The euro gained after an adviser to the German government said European policy makers may raise borrowing costs as soon as the financial crisis ends. The Australian dollar rose to its highest level in 24 years after minutes of the central bank's last meeting signaled policy makers considered raising rates. The dollar slid 1 percentage point, the most since April 16, to $1.5666 per euro at 3:12 p.m. in New York, from $1.5510 Monday. COMMODITIES Crude jumped after OPEC's president was quoted as saying his organization won't raise its output before its next meeting in September. That sent a barrel of light, sweet crude to a trading high of $129.58 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gold prices shot higher, approaching a one-month high after crude oil spiked to a new record and the dollar fell - inflationary moves that fed safe-haven buying of precious metals. Crude's rise touched off a broad commodities rally, with silver, copper heating oil and agriculture futures all trading higher. In the past week, gold has gained 6% and has surged back above $900 an ounce as crude prices push deeper into record territory. Gold for June delivery jumped $14.40 to settle at $920.20 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after earlier rising to $924.10, its highest since April 23.