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Tokyo stocks dive for second day on reactor fears

March 14, 2011 |  6:32 pm

Japanese stocks plunged as trading opened Tuesday, adding to Monday’s heavy losses, as concerns deepened about the damaged Fukushima nuclear power reactors.

The Nikkei-225 share index was down 633 points, or 6.6%, to 8,986 at about 6:30 p.m. PDT, about 90 minutes into the trading session.

The Nikkei had plummeted 6.2% on Monday, which was many investors’ first chance to react to Friday’s devastating earthquake and tsunami.

A hydrogen explosion Tuesday morning destroyed the outer building of a quake-damaged Unit 2 nuclear reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“Engineers had been struggling overnight to cool the nuclear core and stave off a meltdown that could release radioactivity over a wide area,” the Times’ Laura King and Mark Magnier wrote.

Some investors continued to pile into Japanese government bonds for relative safety, despite the rock-bottom yields on the securities. The five-year Japanese government bond yield fell to 0.44% from 0.49% on Monday and 0.56% on Friday. Yields fell on government bonds worldwide on Monday.

Elsewhere in early trading Tuesday in the Asia/Pacific region, the Australian market was down 0.6%, Taiwan’s market was off 0.6% and Singapore was down 1%.

Go here for updates on stock market indexes in Japan and across Asia.

-- Tom Petruno

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