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Japan Scrambles to Stabilize Economy Amid Post-Quake Sell-Off

Japan Scrambles to Stabilize Economy Amid Post-Quake Sell-Off

Japan Scrambles to Stabilize Economy Amid Post-Quake Sell-Off

Nikkei drops 4.5% on first day of trading since Friday's quake

Officials scrambled to shore up the Japanese financial system as stock prices tumbled Monday amid fears about the impact of Friday's earthquake and tsunami.

Some experts say Friday's double blow, which likely killed more than 10,000 people, could be the most expensive disaster in the nation's history.

The central bank said Monday it is injecting a record $183 billion into money markets to try to stabilize the economy after share prices fell by more than 4.5 percent on the first day of trading after the quake. The sell-off hit virtually all sectors of the economy, prompted by concerns that industrial production will be seriously disrupted.

Hundreds of factories across Japan, including carmakers Toyota and Nissan, are closed as a result of damage or power outages. Energy providers are warning of blackouts throughout the country in the coming days, because they are not able to meet the demand.

Thousands of homes have been destroyed. About two million are left without electricity and water.

A U.S.-based consulting group, AIR Worldwide, said Sunday that insured property loses from the earthquake alone could be between $15 billion and $35 billion.

Risk consultancy Equecat has estimated that the economic cost from the 8.9-magnitude earthquake will total more than $100 billion. That estimate does not include the cost of the clean-up and long-term monitoring of nuclear reactors for radiation leaks.

The Bank of Japan said Monday it will inject $86 billion into the financial system to help stabilize the country's export-led economy.

The 1995 earthquake in Kobe was one of the world's most expensive natural disasters. It killed more than 6,000 people and caused more than $132 billion worth of damage.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.