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Share prices wilted across the board in Tel Aviv, taking a cue from unnerved investors the world wide. On Wall Street they blamed the blah on the increase in oil prices , which surged after Libyan forces loyal to embattled leader Muammar Gadhafi carried out an air strike on Brega, just two kilometers from an oil terminal.

"It's hard to say if the Libyan government is trying to target oil infrastructure in the east or whether they're just targeting rebel-held areas, but the market's reacting to this threat either way," Andy Lebow, trader at MF Global in New York, told Reuters.

Gold rose to a record high for a second straight day yesterday as the fear-stench spread on the Street. Over in Europe, indexes slipped without exception, though not by much. The higher oil goes, the more manufacturing costs rise, to put it crudely, which could portend a setback for stocks.

German shares lost 0.6%, London equities dipped 0.4% and the French CAC benchmark index fell 0.8%. Asia too brought no relief from the red - with one exception: Karachi's benchmark KSE index gained 0.8%. Saudi stocks lost nearly 4%.

Over in Tel Aviv the losses were mild, as share prices clawed back some ground before closing. The benchmark TA-25 index dipped 0.7% to 1,264 points and the broader TA-100 index retreated 1% to 1,163 points. But total turnover was heavy at NIS 2.5 billion.

Among stocks, Delek Real Estate stood out with a 7.6% retreat after suffering a credit downgrade. Rebutting speculation at Clal Finance that a haircut is coming, the company denied all.

Bank Hapoalim (down 1.3% ) is demanding that Maariv Modiin Publishing, belonging to Maariv Holdings (also down 1.3% ) repay NIS 106 million in a week. The bank says Maariv is in breach.