Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, world markets plunge amid virus panic
The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, December 25, 2018. (Adam Shuldman/Flash90)

The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange plummeted on Monday as investors panicked over the surging coronavirus and an oil price war rocked global markets.

The Tel Aviv market's opening was delayed by a so-called circuit breaker mechanism that automatically halts trading for 30 minutes if the lead index sees moves of eight percent.

It was the first time the circuit breaker was triggered since November 2008.

The TA-35 index fell 6.53% by the closing bell and is down 20.66% in the past month.

Virus panic also bludgeoned international markets on Monday.

A circuit breaker halted trading on Wall Street early Monday when the S&P 500 dropped 7% at opening. The index was down 5.5% shortly after trading resumed, and has falling nearly 16% in the past month after hitting a record high in mid-February.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell 4.23%, Jappan's Nikkei 5.07%, London's FTSE 100 6.28% and Germany's DAX 7.17%.

Compounding fears of the spreading virus was an oil price war between leading producers Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Last week, Saudi Arabia called on OPEC countries to cut back on production to counter plunging demand as the virus constricts international trade and travel. Russia, the world's second largest producer, refused.

In retaliation, Saudi Arabia slashed its prices and vowed to step up production in a move aimed at holding onto its market share and pushing out its competitor.

The price cut sent markets into chaos, with the price of US crude dropping by as much as 34% at one point, causing massive losses for energy companies.

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