Fears of slowdown in Japan push stocks lower on Wall Street

Associated Press


Concerns over the economic impact of the massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, led to a broad sell-off in the stock market Monday.

Nine out of the 10 sectors that make up the Standard and Poor’s 500 index lost ground. Utilities companies fell 1.4 percent, the most of any group, as explosions at Japanese nuclear reactors in the wake of the disaster dimmed prospects for the nuclear-energy industry.

The S&P index, the basis for most U.S. mutual funds, fell 7.89 points, or 0.6 percent, to 1,296.39.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 51.24, or 0.4 percent, to 11,993.16. The Nasdaq composite dipped 14.64, or 0.5 percent, to 2,700.97.

“Everything is linked now,” said David Katz, senior portfolio strategist at Weiser Capital Management. “There is no such thing as a catastrophe happening in any major country and its not affecting the global economy.”

Japan’s central bank pumped a record $184 billion into money-market accounts to encourage bank lending. Financial analysts said the move could put pressure on Japan to raise interest rates, particularly since the country is saddled with massive debt that, at 200 percent of gross domestic product, is the biggest among developed nations.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index fell 633.94 points, or 6.2 percent, to close at 9,620.49 — its lowest level in four months. The decline wiped out this year’s gains.

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