Global Stocks Rocked as Quake Strikes Japan

JapanStocks bounced between small gains and losses in early trading Friday as investors tried to gauge the economic fallout from a massive earthquake that struck off the east coast of Japan, triggering huge tsunami waves that killed hundreds of people.

The earthquake came toward the end of the Asian trading session. Tsunami alerts were issued for areas as far away as the West coast of the U.S.

The prospect of a short-term drop in demand for crude from Japan, the world's third-largest oil consumer, sent oil prices sharply down. Oil dipped below $100 for the first time this month. Crude fell $2.16 to $100.54 a barrel.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 30 points, or 0.3 percent, to 11,953 in morning trading. The Standard & Poor's 500 fell 0.6, or less than 1 percent, to 1,294.

Energy companies, which drove stocks lower Thursday, were among the biggest gainers in the S&P 500. Tesoro Corp. rose 6.5 percent, the biggest gain in the S&P 500. Valero Energy Corp. rose 5.4 percent after the company agreed to buy oil refineries from Chevron Corp. in the U.K. and Ireland.

The Nasdaq composite fell 6.1, or 0.2 percent, to 2,694.

The quake caused a selloff in global stock markets, led by sharp drops in insurance companies. Japan's Nikkei closed down 1.7 percent. The yen remained stable, however, because it is seen as a relatively safe investment for international traders.

In addition to the earthquake, another factor pushing oil prices lower was relief that a day of protests in Saudi Arabia only drew small numbers, and none in the capital. Oil traders have been worried the violence in the middle east and North Africa would spread to the world's No. 1 oil exporter.

Oil prices have surged 24 percent since the middle of February, when the violence in Libya escalated.

A strong report on U.S. retail sales was largely overshadowed by the earthquake in Japan and other world events.

"Issues in Japan and potential tsunamis are dominating the conversation, so we're not really talking about retail sales," said Ryan Detrick, senior technical strategist for Schaeffer's Investment Research.

The Commerce Department reported that retail sales rose 1 percent in February, the biggest gain in four months and more than the 0.8 percent analysts had expected. Shoppers laid out more cash for cars, clothing and gadgets in February, leading to an eighth month of gains.

Stocks fell sharply Thursday on weak economic news from China, the U.S. and Spain combined with a slump in oil company shares. The Dow Jones industrial average had its biggest drop since August 11. Other than several large swings in the past month, stocks have been climbing steadily since September.

"It could be time for a well-deserved rest," said Detrick. "The markets had a spectacular six-month rally and now they're showing some slight cracks."

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March 13 2011 at 8:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
John H

This is God getting back at Japan for attacking Pearl Bailey in 1941.

March 11 2011 at 1:31 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
jmnardihrt

Why do you print a headline like thois when the DOW is up 32 points ? What is your aim ? What is the point ? I MUDT understand what you gain by attempting to spread bad news when indeed ths market is up ? What are you some kind of ******* idiot ?

March 11 2011 at 12:41 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
John H

Japan not Japam

March 11 2011 at 12:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
John H

This is the worst disaster to hit Japam since Godzilla attacked Tokyo.

March 11 2011 at 11:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tj1108

Even my hardcore leftist socialist relative is noticing the rapid rise of the cost of groceries. He even stated it was scaring him. He is the strongest Obama supporter you could ever meet. He could never believe anything negative about the Obama administration. He hes been out of work (full time job) for about 26 months and he starting to see that things are getting worse with Obamas policies.
I wonder how many of those ardent Obama supporters are starting to think like him.

March 11 2011 at 11:40 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
TheBlueKnight

I don't know how the stock market survives. Everyday there is a hiccup somewhere on the planet Earth that somehow has a devestating effect on the market. Wars, tornados, bad weather, earthquakes, employment etc. Looks like its headed right back to 2009 levels where investers lost over 50% of their investments. Yeah, things are really looking up in a global market.

March 11 2011 at 9:58 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
tgmfluff

sooo because of an earthquake in Japan, the price of oil drops ! .. the price of oil is totally being manipulated by the big companies, who seize on any issue to rip off the people of the world... chaos in Libya, that is a problem that can be corrected quite easily by the other OPEC countries increasing their output... but big oil just says that it cuts 1.6 millions barrels off from the world.. lets face facts, if i could make some additional money because a competitor has production problems, then i would add to my output...spectulators are ripping off the world because of $$$$ ... if Japan is going to use less oil because of the earthquake, then why wouldn't that drop go towards making up the need from Libya ? ... even if its temporary.. whats to stop Canada or Mexico from flooding the market... or is it cause their oil isn't good enough.. or they're not OPEC

See full article from DailyFinance: http://srph.it/gsR0sr

March 11 2011 at 9:48 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
sjoberdix

Wall street fall started yesterday, the earthquake is only going to make it happen faster. With Japan being the third largest oil custmomer and We the People planning for our own oil stoppage in the works, There will be so much on the market they wont be able to give it away.

March 11 2011 at 8:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply