U.S. stocks ended lower on Monday, as investors were worried about the impact of the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan on the global economy.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 51.24 points, or 0.43 percent, at 11,993.16. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 7.89 points, or 0.60 percent, at 1,296.39. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 14.64 points, or 0.54 percent, at 2,700.97.
The death toll accruing from Friday’s massive earthquake in the region around Sendai – the epicenter of the disaster – has now surged over 5,000, with the discovery of 2,000 bodies along the coast of the Miyagi Prefecture. Around half of the total dead were located on the shores of Minami-Sanrikucho, where the Miyagi Prefectural Government stated that about 10,000 people -- more half the town's population – remain unaccounted for.
Meanwhile, a new blast occurred at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power complex on Monday, after a massive earthquake and tsunami struck the world's third largest economy. The blast -- the second hydrogen explosion in three days -- sent out a huge cloud of smoke into the air, while triggering fresh radiation concerns.
Shares of General Electric Co. (NYSE:GE) declined 2.16 percent to $19.92. The company designed all six of the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan.
Consol Energy led the gains in coal companies’ shares on expectations that the shutdown of Japanese nuclear reactors will lead to more coal use. The company shares advanced 4.65 percent to $50.13.
Lubrizol Corp. (NYSE: LZ) shares climbed 27.73 percent after Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE: BRK.A, BRK.B) said it has agreed to acquire chemical company Lubrizol for $135 a share in cash, or $9 billion, making it one of the largest acquisitions in its history.
Among the uranium producers, Denison Mines Corp. (AMEX:DNN) plunged 22.49 percent and Uranium Energy Corp. (AMEX:UEC) slumped 19.18 percent.
Futures on the S&P 500 are down 1.75 percent, futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average are down 1.49 percent and Nasdaq100 futures are down 1.64 percent.
The euro declined 0.45 percent to 1.3930 against the dollar and the yen gained 0.14 percent against the greenback. Crude oil futures plunged 1.52 percent to $99.65 a barrel and gold futures declined 0.79 percent.
European stock markets declined to 14-week low on Tuesday, after Tokyo shares plunged more than 10 percent amid fears of a nuclear disaster in Japan.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index declined 1.91 percent to 267.31. DAX30 declined 180.86 points or 2.63 percent to 6,685.77, CAC 40 fell 69.01 points or 1.78 percent 3,809.03 and the FTSE 100 declined 87.41 points or 1.51 percent to 5,687.83.
Germany’s biggest utilities E.ON AG declined 1.89 percent to 21.24 euros and RWE AG fell 1.36 percent to 44.44 euros, while French nuclear engineering group Areva SA plunged 6.66 percent to 29.4 euros.
Close Brothers Group Plc declined after the company reported first half net income of 14.6 million pounds compared to 14.6 million pounds in the same period last year.
G4S Plc. declined 1.93 percent as its full year earnings missed analysts’ estimates. The company reported full year profit of 223 million pounds against analysts’ estimation of 225.8 million pounds.
Asian stock markets ended sharply lower on Tuesday, with Japanese stock markets slumped for the second day on escalating fears of a nuclear crisis after a radiation leak was detected at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant and residents were warned to stay indoors.
Japan's prime minister Naoto Kan said on Tuesday that radioactive levels had become high around a nuclear power plant damaged by the nation’s biggest earthquake, and there was a risk of radiation leaking into the atmosphere. Kan urged people within 30 km (18 miles) of the facility north of Tokyo to remain indoors and the French embassy in the capital warned in an advisory that a low level of radioactive wind could reach Tokyo within 10 hours.
Benchmark Nikkei index slumped 10.55 percent or 1,015.34 to 8,605.15 after plunging 6.18 percent in the previous session. Meanwhile the Topix index plunged 9.47 percent to 766.73 and recorded its worst two-day slump since 1987.
Shares of Tokyo Electric Power, Japan's biggest utility and operator of the Fukushima nuclear-power plant which suffered an explosion to its No. 3 reactor building after the earthquake, slumped 24.76 percent to 1,221 yen.
Among auto makers, Nissan Motor declined 3.32 percent to 698 yen and Honda Motor declined 3.9 percent to 2,974 yen, while Toyota Motor plunged 7.4 percent to 3,065 yen after halting production at almost all of their domestic plants.
Japanese exporters were also affected as yen strengthened against all of its major counterparts as Japanese firms, including insurance companies, bought back their home currency in order to fund the country's reconstruction. The yen strengthened to 81.54 per dollar in Asian trade.
Among the worst performers, Toshiba Corp plunged 19.46 percent and Hitachi slumped 12.5 percent, while Sumitomo Metal Industries plunged 15.93 percent.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index plunged 761.54 points or 3.26 percent to 22,584.34 and Chinese Shanghai composite declined 2.07 percent or 60.93 points to 2,876.70. China Coal Energy declined 2.86 percent and Shandong Gold-Mining declined 3.28 percent, while Zijin Mining fell 3.82 percent.
South Korean shares ended lower, led by declines from technology and steel producers companies. Seoul composite declined 47.31 points or 2.40 percent to 1,923.92. Samsung Electronics declined 4.44 percent and LG Electronics fell 3.33 percent, while POSCO fell 3.48 percent.