Japan Shares Plunge on Nuclear Crisis, Yen's Surge

Tokyo, March 17 (DPA) Japanese stocks fell sharply in Thursday morning trading as the yen surged against major currencies amid growing fears of a potential meltdown at a nuclear plant in northeastern Japan.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Stock Average lost 189.86 points, or 2.09 percent, to trade at 8,903.86 while the broader Topix index was down 15.04 points, or 1.84 percent, at 802.59.

Investor sentiment was hurt by the yen's sharp rise and the ongoing nuclear crisis in Fukushima, where cooling systems at six reactors failed after Friday's magnitude-9 earthquake and tsunami.

The yen climbed, hovering around mid-79 yen to the dollar, after rising as high as 76.25 yen to the greenback, which surpassed the previous postwar high of 79.75 yen in April 1995.

A stronger yen makes Japanese goods more expensive abroad and erodes repatriated earnings.

On currency markets at 11 a.m. (0200 GMT), the dollar traded at 79.55-58 yen, down from Wednesday's 5 p.m. quote of 80.92-94 yen.

The euro traded at $1.3912-3917, down from $1.3963-3965 Wednesday, and at 110.65-72 yen, down from 112.99-113.03 yen.


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Title: Japan Shares Plunge on Nuclear Crisis, Yen's Surge

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