Clerk's Error Causes TASE to Tank

Investors on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange got a bit of a scare when the market tanked Sunday afternoon - due to a clerical error

David Lev ,

Israeli stock exchange
Israeli stock exchange
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Investors on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange got a bit of a scare Sunday afternoon, when the market tanked by nearly 3% – before a “correction” brought the market's level back up to its normal fluctuation range. The reason for the temporary crash – a typing error by a clerk that caused one of Israel's largest conglomerates to lose nearly 100% of its market value.

Shares of the Israel fell 99.88% early Sunday afternoon, triggering a massive wave of short sales, as investors desperately tried to dump their shares. The slide took no more than 5 minutes, and the selling action depressed the Tel Aviv 25 index of major corporate shares by 2.5%.

Worried stock market officials immediately began investigating the issue, fearing that a major catastrophe had beset the country. When they didn't hear anything special on the news, they looked a bit harder – and traced the drop to a specific sale order, in which a clerk apparently had meant to type in the name of another, much lower priced company. When the low value sale was registered for the Israel Corporation stock, it immediately set off a wave of electronic selling.

Realizing the problem, officials halted trading on Israel Corporation shares, and cancelled the trade that had caused the problem – and then proceeded to cancel all the trades made within that five minute window. Canceling those trades has proven more complicated than executing them, however, as investors or agents who executed the trades must be contacted individually – and officials expect to be working far into the night Sunday correcting the mistake.