Asia stocks tumble on Japan nuclear crisis fears; Nikkei plunges 10.1%

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Forex Pros - Asian stock markets tumbled for a second day on Tuesday, with the Nikkei suffering its worst two-day decline since 1987, amid mounting fears over the possibility of a Japanese nuclear catastrophe.

During late Asian trade, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index tumbled 3.28%, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped 2.1%, while Japan's Nikkei 225 Index plunged 10.1%.

Earlier in the day, Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan said there was a high risk of elevated levels of radiation from the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant, following another explosion at the stricken plant, this time at its No. 4 reactor.

Shares in Tokyo Electric Power Company, operator of the crippled Fukushima power plant plunged 24.7%. The stock has lost nearly 48.3% this week.

Amongst other Japanese nuclear plant operators, Tohoku Electric Power plummeted 20.1%, while Chubu Electric Power Company sank 11.1%.

Oil and gas producers JX Holdings and Cosmo Oil, which were forced to shut refineries following the earthquake, were down 11.1% and 9.05%, respectively.

Meanwhile, the world's largest automaker Toyota saw shares drop 7.4%, Honda slumped 3.9%, while shares in Suzuki Motors tumbled 8.7% after it said it would suspend production at all Japanese plants until March 16.

Shares in the financial sector were sharply lower, with the nation's largest lender Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group tumbling 8.75%, while Mizuho Financial Group plummeted 10.35%.

Elsewhere, Australia's largest uranium producer Paladin Energy saw shares plunge 17.4%, while nuclear reactor manufacturer Energy Resources tumbled 14.3%.

The outlook for European equity markets, meanwhile, was sharply lower. The EURO STOXX 50 futures indicated a drop of 2.48%, France's CAC 40 futures pointed to a decline of 2.28%, the FTSE 100 futures indicated a loss of 2.13%, while Germany's DAX futures were down 2.83%.

Later in the day, the U.S. was to publish official data on manufacturing activity in the New York region, as well as government reports on import prices and the balance of domestic and foreign investment.

In addition, the Federal Reserve was to hold its policy setting meeting before announcing its federal funds rate.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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