Tel Aviv stocks fell fast and hard on expectations of losses on Wall Street, and thanks to a beating taken by the entire IDB group.

Early gains by some stocks reversed direction in mid-morning. The indices have returned to a hole last seen in October 1999 level.

The Maof-25 blue chip index closed down 3.95% to 407.1 points, the TA-100 index lost 4.42% to 398.8, and the Tel-Tech index lost a steep 4.6% to 277 points. Action was relatively heavy, lifting total turnover to NIS NIS 353 million.

The herd stampeded away from the IDB group, after Clal Electronics and Clal Industries today announced a possible merger. Clal Industries sunk by 5.3% and Clal Electronics lost 9.3%. As for the rest of the group, IDB fell 7.1%, IDB Holdings lost 6.7% and Discount Investments sank by 7.6%.

Major bank shares reversed mild opening gains. Bank Hapoalim closed down 2.8%,on session's highest volume, NIS 42.1 million. Leumi lost 2.8%, and Bank Mizrahi closed down 3%.

Then there's the national phone carrier Bezeq, which lost 1.6% on high turnover of NIS 36.4 million. The Israel Corporation closed down 4.2%. Both shares were trading with steep gains earlier in the session.

Teva Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq:TEVA) also headed south today, closing down 2% after starting with a mild gain. Elron Electronic Industries (Nasdaq:ELRNF) lost 7.7% after starting with a 2% hop.

Elbit Systems (Nasdaq:ESLT) dropped by 3.9% and Tower Semiconductor (Nasdaq:TSEM) lost 4.5%.

Israel Chemicals lost 2.2% following a NIS 233.7 million lawsuit filed against its subsidiary Dead Sea Works.

Retailers Blue Square Israel (NYSE:BSI) closed down 3.7% and Supersol (NYSE:SAE) ended off 2.05%.

Koor Industries (NYSE:KOR) was sharply down 6.85% and subsidiary Makhteshim Agan lost 2.8%.

Shares of the oil and gas companies were lively today on relatively high volume. Avner participation units closed down 0.7% after are losing 5.5% earlier.

Which isn't to say that there were nothing but losses today. Delek Energy gained 4.4% and the Kardan investments group ended up almost 3%.