Japan markets crash as quake-inflicted damage piles up

14 March 2011 05:31  [Source: ICIS news]

Smoke rising from a fire in Japan after a deadly earthquakeSINGAPORE (ICIS)--Japan’s stock market crashed on Monday as investors digested the widespread devastation wrought by the worst earthquake on record to hit the country, with the death toll expected to exceed 10,000.

At 12:42 hours Singapore time (04:42 GMT), the benchmark Nikkei 225 index plunged 598.83 points or 5.84% at 9,655.60, with shares of petrochemical companies sent tumbling.

Shares of Cosmo Oil plunged 26.24% as a quake-induced conflagration at its 220,000 bbl/day refinery in Chiba prefecture continued to rage on Monday.

Mitsui Chemicals also fell 12.23%, Mitsubishi Chemical was down 11.80% and JX Holdings plummeted 16.46%.

Mitsui Chemicals’ operations at Kashima in Chiba prefecture were all shut.

JX Nippon Oil & Energy, a unit of JX Holdings, halted operations at three of its refineries - a 145,000 bbl/day unit at Sendai in Miyagi prefecture, a 189,000 bbl/day crude oil refinery at Kashima in Ibaraki prefecture and a 270,000 bbl/day unit at Negishi in Kanagawa prefecture.

Japan is facing its worst disaster since World War II, Prime Minister Naoto Kan has said.

A massive earthquake of 9.0 magnitude on the Richter scale struck Japan’s northeastern coast and triggered tsunami waves as high as 10m on 11 March, killing thousands of people.

As of Monday, confirmed deaths were at 1,597, according to BBC, citing official data from Japan Police. But in just one town in Sendai, the epicentre of the quake, some 9,500 people were missing, according to media reports.

Strong aftershocks continued to rock Japan on Monday, with the events at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility still unfolding.

An explosion occurred at Fukushima’s No 3 nuclear reactor, following Saturday’s explosion at the No 1 unit, as cooling systems of the facilities failed after the quake and the following tsunami.

The explosions were feared to have released radioactive leaks, reminiscent of the Chernobyl disaster 25 years ago.

Residents near the site were evacuated.

“Humanitarian issues aside, preliminary estimates of the economic impact of the disaster remain perhaps surprisingly low, on the order of tens of billions of US dollars rather than hundreds of billions,” DBS Group Research said in a note on Monday.

Overall estimates, however, would depend on the resolution of the problems being experienced at Japan’s nuclear facilities, it said.

Additional reporting by Nurluqman Suratman

Please visit the complete ICIS plants and projects database
Read John Richardson and Malini Hariharan’s blog – Asian Chemical Connections

By: Pearl Bantillo
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