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News Brief


The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange opened Sunday with sharp losses despite the $700 billion bailout measure in the United States.

Israeli Finance Minister Roni Bar-On said during Sunday’s weekly Cabinet meeting that the country’s financial leadership is not worried.

Bar-On warned, however, that the planned government budget for 2009 should not be increased.

“At this point, there is no sign for real worry,” Bar-On said. He later added, “We need not deviate from the objectives of the budget which we decided on. On the background of the world economic crisis, we must not open up the budget.”

The comments came as coalition talks to form a new government continue. The Labor Party has called for a 2.5 percent increase in the budget, while the Shas Party has demanded a raise in child benefits that would cost $290 million.

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