Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Fresh nuclear fears hit Asian shares

Asian shares slid on Tuesday as Japanese stocks were hit by renewed concerns over Japan’s nuclear crisis while an IMF report on the global economy sent commodity prices lower, affecting resource stocks in the region. The MSCI Asia Pacific index fell 0.6 per cent, the most in a week, after Japan raised its assessment of the Fukushima nuclear accident to the most serious level on a seven-step international scale, equivalent to the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

Tokyo expanded the evacuation zone in the north-eastern part of the country after powerful aftershocks sparked renewed anxiety one month since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami killed more than 13,000 people and caused widespread damage. The Nikkei 225 average was trading 1.1 per cent lower and Tokyo Electric Power, which operates the crippled Fukushima plant, tumbled 6.8 per cent. Sony was off 2.5 per cent and Toyota Motor was down 1.5 per cent. Tohoku Electric Power dropped 2.6 per cent after power was cut in some areas following the magnitude 7.1 aftershock on Monday.

In Sydney, materials and energy producers lost ground amid concerns that higher oil prices might dampen economic growth. The S&P/ASX 200 was down 0.6 per cent. Alumina fell 2.5 per cent and BHP Billiton retreated 1.2 per cent after recent gains while Fortescue Metals lost 1.3 per cent. But Westpac Banking advanced 1 per cent after the Australian Financial Review reported that the bank was planning to bid for British asset manager Henderson Group.

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