Israel shekel slides to 15-month low vs dollar, shares sink

Israel Materials 16 March 2020 14:24 (UTC +04:00)

Israel's shekel ILS= slid another 2.5% versus the dollar on Monday to a 15-month low to bring losses to more than 8% so far this month, while share prices continued to tumble in Tel Aviv in the wake of the global coronavirus outbreak, Trend reports with reference to Reuters.

The shekel stood at 3.755 per dollar in late morning trade, it’s weakest level since December 2018, versus Friday’s closing rate of 3.69.

“There is a lack of liquidity of dollars and the market is freaking out,” said a dealer at an Israeli bank. “People are desperate for dollars and the Bank of Israel is not really helping with (FX) swaps.”

The Bank of Israel, which had bought billions of dollars in recent months to help stem the shekel’s sharp appreciation in 2019, did not immediately comment.

Two currency dealers who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity noted that local pension funds and other institutional investors were seeking dollars amid a steep stock market sell-off.

Tel Aviv share indices .TA35 .TA125 were down another 6% on Monday, while government bond prices were down 0.1% to 0.8%.