The devastating earthquake measuring 8.9 on Richter scale went rampaging through Japan triggering a massive tsunami with 12-foot waves inundating the northern coastal region.
The earthquake also sent tremors through the market as the details of the economic impact of the tragedy began to trickle. WSJ reported that crude oil-futures crashed on reports that the earthquake would have knocked off a major chuck of Japan's refining capacity and power generation capability.
Tokyo Electric Power's Fukushima Daiichi plant has shut down its three reactors, while Tohuku Electric Power Co.'s Onagawa plant in Miyagi also shut down its three reactors. The automatic shut down of these reactors would lead to an increase in fuel consumption to supplement Japan's power needs. Bloomberg reported that in the wake of the earthquake, Japan's Cosmo Oil Co.'s refinery caught fire and in total 11 nuclear reactors were shut down in Japan.
Major insurance and reinsurance companies' stocks also plunged in the wake of the earthquake. The Street reported that European insurers Swiss Re and Munich Re's shares were falling on overseas trading as much as 5 percent while AIG's shares were down 33 cents in pre-market trading. Bloomberg reported that the disaster caused the Bloomberg Europe 500 Insurance Index to fall 2.3 percent. The insurance may have to shell out $10 billion in claims, according to analysts at Jefferies International.
Also Reuters reported that eight catastrophe bonds equivalent to $1 billion could leave financial investors exposed to insured losses due to the earthquake. Catastrophe bonds transfer the risk of natural calamities to investors, who receive a yield in return for agreeing to cover a claim up to a certain limit. Significant losses will be booked by sponsors including Munich Re, Scor, Swiss Re, Flagstone Reand Platinum Underwriters Bermuda Ltd. if any bonds are triggered.
Bloomberg reported that yen gained against the dollar after an initial dip on back of expectation that investors could possibly pull back funds from foreign investments for domestic purposes.
Japan will invariably has to infuse a massive stimulus program to reconstruct the quake and tsunami-hit regions and this will inflate the country's fiscal deficit at a time when Tokyo is struggling to put a lid on deficit, Nouriel Roubini said on Friday.
This is certainly the worst thing that can happen in Japan at the worst time, Roubini said, according to Bloomberg.