European stocks plunge on Japan crisis; DAX tumbles 4.8%

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Forex Pros - European stock markets plunged on Tuesday, as mounting fears over Japan's escalating nuclear crisis sparked a global selloff in equities, while U.S. futures indexes pointed to a sharply lower open on Wall Street.

During European morning trade, the EURO STOXX 50 dropped 3.46%, France's CAC 40 tumbled 3.33%, while Germany's DAX plunged 4.83%.

Earlier in the day, Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan warned that radiation levels had become "significantly" higher around the Fukushima Dai-Ichi power plant, following another explosion, this time at the stricken plant's No. 4 reactor.

Shares in the world's largest maker of nuclear reactors Areva plunged 9.5% amid concerns damage to Japanese nuclear power plants would hurt demand for reactor fuel. The stock has lost nearly 18.5% this week.

Utility providers linked to nuclear energy also performed poorly, as Germany's largest renewable energy provider RWE AG saw shares tumble 5.7%. Rival E.ON plummeted 6.1% after the Deutsche Presse reported that the German environment ministry wanted to temporarily shut E.ON's Isar 1 nuclear reactor in Bavaria.

Meanwhile, shares in luxury goods retailers were broadly lower amid concerns over the long-term sales impact of the massive earthquake in Japan, which accounts for nearly 11% of global luxury sales.

Shares in LVMH dropped 6.4%, rival Hermes slumped 5.8%, while Burberry saw shares plunge 6.7%.

In London, the commodity-heavy FTSE 100 sank 2.4% as commodity prices retreated amid increased risk aversion.

Shares in silver producer Fresnillo tumbled 7.1%, copper producer Xstrata dropped 4.05%, while oil giant British Petroleum saw shares slump 4.1%.

The outlook for U.S. equity markets, meanwhile, was sharply lower. The Dow Jones Industrial Average futures pointed to a drop of 2.39%, S&P 500 futures indicated a loss 2.82%, while the Nasdaq 100 futures pointed to a decline of 2.85%.

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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