Tokyo markets lead global equities lower
Equities markets around the world were lower Tuesday as investors worried about the fallout, literal and figurative, of last week’s earthquake in Japan, which the US Geological Survey recalculated to magnitude 9.0 instead of its earlier assessment at magnitude 8.9.
The biggest declines were in Tokyo’s markets, where the Nikkei 225 dropped over 1,000 points and was down 10.55 percent to 8,605.15 as a record number of shares were traded for the second session in a row, while the Topix index was 9.47 percent lower to 766.73 and the Mothers market dropped 11.26 percent to 363.73.
Most of the focus of the session’s concerns centered around the Fukushima nuclear power facility as Prime Minister Naoto Kan warned of the danger of radiation leaks from the power plant in the wake of three explosions and a separate fire there and told those living within 30 km (19 miles of the plant to remain inside their homes.
Among the biggest decliners in Tokyo were utilities operators and companies that participate in the construction of nuclear power facilities.
The Shanghai Composite was down 1.41 percent to 2,896.26, while India’s Sensex fell 1.47 percent to 18,167.6, Australia’s markets were lower as the S&P/ASX200 was 2.11 percent lower to 4,528.7 and the Sydney Ordinaries dropped 2.13 percent to 4,609.9, the Kospi was down 2.4 percent to 1,923.92, Singapore’s Straits Times Index fell 2.8 percent to 2,946.08, the Hang Seng was 2.86 percent lower to 22,678.2 in Hong Kong and Taiwan’s Taiex dropped 3.35 percent to 8,234.78.
European markets were also lower.
The FTSE 100 fell 1.38 percent to 5,695.28 in London, while the FTSE 250 dropped 1.75 percent to 11,151.2, as most utilities and retailers were lower, most of the energy sector saw declines, and miners declined on lower metals prices, but environmental consultants were among gainers.
Elsewhere in the region, the FTSE Eurofirst 300 was down 2.07 percent to 1,086.46 while the IBEX fell 0.83 percent to 10,329.7, the CAC-40 was 2.51 percent lower to 3,780.85 and the Dax dropped 3.19 percent to 6,647.66, with no gainers on either the Paris or Frankfurt indexes.
New York equities markets were lower in afternoon trade, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 1.47 percent to 11,816.8, while the S&P 500 had dropped 1.44 percent to 1,277.71 and the Nasdaq Composite was 1.56 percent lower to 2,658.84.
Crude oil prices were also effect by concerns about the situation in Japan, with April contracts for West Texas Intermediate crude down $2.75 per barrel while Brent crude was last reported down $3.35 per barrel.
Metals prices were lower in New York trade, with gold down by over $31 to $1,393.50 per troy ounce in the most recent report.