In Asia Monday Japan's Nikkei 225 Index plunged 6.2% to 9,620. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index gained 0.4% to 23,346 and China's Shanghai Composite Index inched up 0.1% to 2,938.

In the aftermath of what Prime Minister Naoto Kan describes as Japan's worst disaster since 1945, Japanese shares plummeted. Businesses operated at a fraction of the usual pace as Tokyoites who braved the hobbled transport system spent hours commuting to work, delivery systems were at a standstill leaving shop shelves bare and many factories have been damaged or shut down.

As the disasters mount, nuclear contamination is high on the list. The highly profitable firms that build nuclear reactors -- not only in Japan but in countries around the world -- suffered huge losses as investors wonder if nuclear power will remain in vogue now that the possibility of disaster has become a reality in one of the world's most technologically sophisticated countries.

Nuclear Power Companies Hit Hard

Hitachi Ltd., which constructs and operates nuclear power systems, plunged 16.2%. Just last Wednesday the firm was celebrating receiving design approval from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for next-generation reactors slated to be built in Michigan, according to Reuters. Toshiba, which also builds nuclear facilities, nosedived 16.3%.

Other nuclear-related companies also sank with Japan Steel Works, a maker of nuclear power plant components, dropping 18.9% and Fuji Electric, which built Japan's first commercial power station in 1965 and still makes products for nuclear plants, fell 11.2%.

Japanese insurers were especially hard hit as the damage estimates will clearly continue to mount as less visible structural damage will add to the obvious destruction and loss of life. Dai-ichi Life Insurance tanked 18%, Tokio Marine dived 16% and MS&AD Insurance Group slid 11%.

Railway lines that suffered massive damage in Northern Japan where tracks and infrastructure were swept away by the tsunami are also reeling from a halt in service in areas further from the quake's epicenter. East Japan has reportedly canceled many of its rush hour trains, according to the Wall Street Journal's Japan Real Time blog, and most if its lines are closed with an average of 20% running -- in part thanks to the rolling black outs sapping power to the transport system. Commuters waiting for trains just west of Shibuya this morning were told that they would have to wait three hours for the next train into central Tokyo. East Japan Railway plunged 18.4% and West Japan Railway slid 3.1%.

Carmakers Careen Lower Along with Most Other Sectors

Honda reported damage to its Tochigi plant, where one employee is confirmed to have died when a wall collapsed in the company cafeteria. Honda and Toyota have both suspended nearly all operations for several days. Mazda fell 10%, Nissan plummeted 9.5%, Isuzu gave up 9.2%, Toyota was down 7.9% and Honda lost 6.5%.

Building firms are among those profiting from the disaster. TOA Corporation, a general contractor specializing in building and cleaning up harbor areas, rocketed up 48.5%. The company has expertise in building commercial and residential properties, erecting harbor facilities, dredging and reclamation. Taisei Corp. soared 19.9%, Kajima Corp. shot up 12.1% and Obayashi surged 10.6%.

In Hong Kong, steel producers ratcheted up on expectations that Japan will be in dire need of raw materials once it starts rebuilding. Angang Steel rose 4.8%, Citic Pacific climbed 4.8%, Maanshan Iron & Steel advanced 2.7%. Miners also advanced with Zhaojin Mining Industry rising 5.2% and Aluminum Corp. of China adding 0.7%.

Hong Kong-listed coal energy companies were also on the rise with China Shenhua rising 2.7% and China Coal adding 1.6%.

In China steel companies were in high demand with investors gambling that China will profit from selling to Japan as it recovers. Baoshan Iron & Steel gained 2.1% and Hebei Iron & Steel advanced 1.6%. But other miners fell, with Tongling Nonferrous Metals sinking 2.7% and Zijin Mining falling 0.2%.









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13 Comments

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setec5354

China is strong and powerful.They will never pick on someone severely injured. Japan is severely injured. Even with disagreement, the two nation will help each other to help those injured!!!!!!!!!!!

March 15 2011 at 2:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mr8pak

In 2004, an Asian tsunami killed 230,000 Asians within 2 days and the region recovered in 1 year! In 2005, Hurricane Katrina killed 1,800 people in the New Orleans/Mississippi area and it took 5 years to recover. The reason why it took 5x longer for America to recover from Katrina is because many locals sat around calling President Bush a racist; Illegal aliens had to be imported to rebuild while able bodied locals watched; The mayor talked about rebuilding a Chocolate City; The free Katrina Debit Cards were abused, and the American WELFARE plantation was exposed. When disasters strike, rarely will you see the welfare types helping. Their characters are too rotted. After an earthquake hit Haiti in 2010, the World issued 5 billion dollars, along with countless volunteers. Meanwhile, half the locals sat around! Here is the conclusion. The higher the morals and lower the welfare types, the faster the recovery time in an area and the less aid needed. JAPAN will re-build fast because it is 100x more moral than Haiti.

March 14 2011 at 3:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mr8pak's comment
setec5354

You said it all and 100% true!!!!
those welfare characters only ask "what can my country do for me,never what can I do for my country!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

March 15 2011 at 2:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jkennedy806

Morals are tanking this day, making money, making money on steel. GE is poised to help out Japan. I would like to say I am shocked and at the inital read I am, but all this is IS a GREAT BIG OPP for money hungry speculators looking to make a fast billion on a big disaster. GREEDY GREEDY GREEDY

March 14 2011 at 11:55 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
ksmwtm

USA borrows from China & pays Japan to design a Nuclear Reactor----more job creation---ANF I assumed job creating numbers were for ONLY USA jobs!---There I go again ASSuming.

March 14 2011 at 10:37 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
stlowlife2

I wonder how much aid China or Japan furnished the U. S. after the Twin Towers or the Katrina disasters?? We possibly could match those responses.

March 14 2011 at 10:28 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to stlowlife2's comment
priority109

just tell it like it IS---nobody.....zerO.

March 14 2011 at 11:47 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
rosemortgage

How many troops did they commit to Iraq and afghanistan?

March 14 2011 at 12:36 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
captmerit

correct

March 14 2011 at 9:20 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to captmerit's comment
bettybea99

I lost tons with my investments. Http://www.bestbankruptcysite.com The crash killed me.

March 14 2011 at 10:02 AM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
rjen164497

Let's see how much help China gives Japan. I will bet it is very little. We will give more, instead of helping ourselves. We will give aid to Japan, and pay China Billons in interest while America goes broke.

March 14 2011 at 9:11 AM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to rjen164497's comment
priority109

you think china forgot WW2 ? LOL.

March 14 2011 at 11:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
pharry752

Since the Japs killed, raped and robbed the unarmed Chinese in the 1930s and 1940s, I would expect China to invade Japan right now rather than help them.

March 14 2011 at 12:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply