Global equity markets, commodity futures and currencies dropped on Friday after a punishing Thursday session, as a broad confluence of factors slammed investor confidence.
In Japan, a massive earthquake wreaked havoc across the eastern coast of Japan; the Japan Meteorological Agency said that it registered as an 8.9 on the Richter scale. There have been 59 confirmed deaths so far, a figure sure to rise as more bodies are found.
In addition, the Fukushima Daichi Nuclear Power Plant has been shut down and the surrounding area has been evacuated . "The emergency shutdown has been conducted but the process of cooling down the reaction is currently not going as planned," said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano.
Meanwhile, Saudi police fired shots in the air and charged with batons to disperse crowds of hundreds of protesting citizens in the country's oil-rich, predominately Shi'ite eastern districts. Amidst uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Oman, Yemen, Libya and other nations, the greatest fear of Eastern and Western investors has been chaos in Saudi Arabia, which produces more oil and has more spare capacity than any single other nation.
The unrest in the Kingdom appears to be fairly muted so far - but it's one more factor adding to an already perilous situation.