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Traders misread Israeli Army tweet about 40th anniversary of Yom Kippur war, cause spike in oil prices

Traders misread Israeli Army tweet about 40th anniversary of Yom Kippur war, cause spike in oil prices
A tweet by the Israel Defense Force claiming that it had started an attack on Syria caused a panic in the oil market – until traders realized the update was referring to events in the Yom Kippur war 40 years ago.

On Thursday at 10 a.m. US Eastern time, just as the markets were warming up, the IDF posted the following tweet on its official feed.

As rumors of a new war in the oil-producing Middle East were quickly passed between traders, brokers began buying oil, driving the price up.

"The IDF tweet caused a bit of a stir in the oil market," Richard Mallinson, chief policy analyst at consultancy Energy Aspects, confirmed to Reuters.

The morning’s trade graph shows a 10-minute spike, followed by an instant correction, as red-faced traders began to rid of their panic buys.

Oil traders often have to react instantly to breaking news, but a bemused IDF was left trying to explain why a tweet containing “YomKippur73” and “Soviet” – a term referring to a country that broke up 22 years ago – should have confused the brightest minds on Wall Street.

"Obviously this was part of our Yom Kippur Twitter series. The facts are there and simple to read. It was apparent within the Tweet itself," IDF spokesman Peter Lerner said.

The Yom Kippur War was a short but bloody conflict that started when Syria and Egypt invaded Israel on the most holy day in the Jewish calendar, in a bid to re-capture the Sinai Peninsula that Egypt lost as a result of the Six-Day War back in 1967. Engagements were quickly stopped by a ceasefire, and Sinai was eventually returned to Egypt as a part of the Camp David accords.

All this information would have been easily available to any traders who had the time to click on the link provided with the tweet, which would take the reader to an in-depth retrospective of the conflict.

The incident is reminiscent of the Associated Press Twitter feed hacking back in April, in which pro-Assad activists Syrian Electronic Army posted false news that President Barack Obama had been injured in an explosion. More than $130 billion was immediately wiped off the markets, according to the Financial Times, causing worries about the vulnerability of leading financial platforms to unconfirmed rumors, which could be used for financial gain.