Tel Aviv Stock Exchange tumbles alongside world markets amid growing virus panic

TASE sees its biggest daily drop since 2018; El Al down 20% since start of the year; markets in New York and Japan continue weeklong dive

Luke Tress is a JTA reporter and a former editor and reporter in New York for The Times of Israel.

Illustrative: The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, December 25, 2018. (Adam Shuldman/Flash90)
Illustrative: The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, December 25, 2018. (Adam Shuldman/Flash90)

The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange and other world markets plummeted on Thursday amid fears of a coronavirus pandemic.

The TA-35 index dropped 4.54 percent and the TA-125 index sank 4.14%, by closing time.

The daily decline was the most severe since December 2018. The TA-35 is down 7.1% for the week.

El Al airlines, already struggling for weeks, dropped 7.47% on Thursday. Shares of the airline have dropped over 20% since the start of 2019.

The company told the stock exchange that it expects to see a loss of $50-70 million in revenue between January and April.

In New York, stocks took a dive Thursday after several days of decline. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is now trading 10% below the record high it hit just two weeks ago. The major indexes were down around 2% by mid morning.

The floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Feb. 27, 2020. (AP/Craig Ruttle)

US airlines also took a significant hit, with American Airlines falling 5.5%.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index fell 2.13%, and is down 7.23% for the week.

Some drug companies have fared better — Teva pharmaceuticals is up 19.4% in the past month on the Tel Aviv exchange, and Gilead Sciences, which said it is experimenting with an antiviral treatment, has climbed 16.6% in the past month in New York.

El Al on Thursday said it was suspending flights to Italy and Thailand due to the virus, and that it would delay its planned launch of direct flights to Tokyo until April. The airline extended its halt of flights to Beijing and Hong Kong until May.

Israel has banned foreigners who were recently in China, Hong Kong, Macau, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea, Japan and Italy, and ordered Israelis returning from those countries to self-quarantine.

The Health Ministry urged Israelis Wednesday to seriously consider refraining from traveling abroad, becoming the first country to issue such a statement.

The Health Ministry said Thursday that an Israeli man who returned from Italy tested positive for the disease, the first case of an infection in the country outside of a hospital quarantine, raising fears he may have infected others.

The coronavirus, which emerged in China late last year, has killed over 2,760 people and infected over 81,000 in 45 countries. The vast majority of infections and deaths have been in mainland China.

Most Popular
read more: