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Wall Street slips on Japan nuclear threat

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-03-15

Concern over Japan’s nuclear crisis sent US stock markets into a nosedive Tuesday. The Dow Jones was down 1.8 percent by midday, mirroring similar losses in Asian and European markets.

AFP - Panic selling hit the US stock market Tuesday as traders worried that a nuclear meltdown in quake-hit Japan could threaten the global economy.
              
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell around 1.8 percent by midday in New York, losing over 200 points.
              
The New York Stock Exchange invoked a rarely used rule to smooth volatility, but to little avail as the prospects of multiple nuclear meltdowns at the Fukushima No.1 complex haunted the market.
              
"The global equity markets are posting solid losses following reports of rising nuclear radiation levels in Japan after more explosions hit an already damaged nuclear power facility," said analysts at Charles Schwab.
              

Four days after the world's third largest economy was struck by a massive earthquake and punishing tsunami, traders are still no closer to having a clear picture about spill-over risks.
              
"It is still too early to tell what the full impact of the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and growing nuclear crisis on Japan's infrastructure, industrial base and economic growth will be -- let alone the broader global impacts," said Nariman Behravesh an economist with IHS.
              
Amid the concern, billions of dollars were wiped of US share values, with blue chip stalwarts General Electric, 3M Company, Bank of America and Caterpillar posting heavy losses.
              
Traders hedged against many Japan-related and nuclear-related stocks.
              
GE, which sells nuclear technology, was down 3.1 percent.
              
Toyota's US-traded shares fell 2.9 percent.
              
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was 212.07 points lower (1.77 percent) at 11,731.09 by 1600 GMT, after dropping nearly 300 points in the minutes after opening.
              
The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite dropped 45.14 points (1.67 percent) to 2,655.83 and the S&P 500-stock index, a broader measure of the markets, shed 22.78 points (1.76 percent) at 1,273.61.
              
That echoed earlier losses on indexes in Japan, Hong Kong and Europe.
              
Tokyo stocks suffered their biggest one-day fall since the 2008 Lehman shock on Tuesday, with the main Nikkei index ending 10.55 percent lower, after losing as much as 14 percent at one point.
              
Meanwhile the bond market fretted that Japan -- which is the second largest holder of US debt, holding $886 billion in January -- might trim back its US bond holdings.

Date created : 2011-03-15

  • FINANCE

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