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The public's portfolio of financial assets shrank by NIS 77.4 billion in March 2008, losing 3.9% of its value to NIS 1.996 trillion, mainly because of the turmoil on the financial markets.

However, the main reason is that Israeli stocks held by the general public tumbled during March.

Bank of Israel figures show that foreign stocks held by Israelis generally maintained their value that month, staying put at about NIS 62.5 billion.

The amount of money that the public held in cash and in checking accounts in March sank to its lowest level in nearly 11 months - since April 2007, to be specific.

The public held NIS 25 billion in cash and NIS 32.8 billion in checking accounts at Israel's banks.

As of the end of March, 35% of the public's assets was invested in financial instruments linked to the consumer price index: on that date, the public held NIS 699.3 billion in such CPI-linked assets. That constituted a drop of nearly NIS 8 billion or 1.1% from the end of February, the central bank figures show.

Nor did the public scorn assets linked to foreign currency: as of the end of March, the public held NIS 258 billion worth of such financial instruments, down NIS 6 billion or 2.3% from the end of the month before.

Another 29% of the public's portfolio was invested in unlinked financial instruments - NIS 579 billion worth, down by NIS 3.2 billion or 0.6% from the end of the previous month.

Nearly 20% of the public's assets were in Israeli stocks, and almost 13% of the public's assets were invested in foreign currency, according to Bank of Israel figures, and 3.1% were invested in foreign stocks.